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4*ri.''-a" rjsHv i /v'S'^a. 


« -N 






Author of the Exposition of the Holy Scriptures. 









** Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and aH her paths are 
peace/' Prov. iii. 17. 

True religion is often in Scripture, and par- 
ticularly in this book of the Proverbs, represent- 
ed and recommended to us under the name and 
character of * Wisdom,' because it is the high- 
est improvement of human nature, and the best 
and surest guide of human life. It was one of 
the first and most ancient discoveries of God's 
mind to the children of men. When God made 
a * weight for the winds' and a ' decree for the 
rain,' when he brought all the other creatures 
under the established rule and law of their crea- 
tion, according to their respective capacities, 
then he declared this to man, a reasonable 


creature, as the law of his creation. " Behold, 
the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom and to de- 
part from evil is understanding/' Job xxviii, 28. 

The great men of the world who engross its 
wealth and honors, are pretenders to wisdom, 
and think none to do so well for themselves as 
they ; but, though their neighbors applaud them, 
and " their posterity," who reap the friiit of this 
worldly wisdom, ** approve their sayings," yet 
" this their way is their folly ;" and so it will 
appear, when God himself shall call them * Fools,' 
and require their souls. Th^earned men of the 
world were well-wishers to wisdom, and modest- 
ly called themselves ** Lovers of Wisdom ;" and 
many wise principles we have from them, and 
wise precepts, and yet their philosophy failed 
them in that in which man's great duty and in- 
terests lies — ^acquainting himself with his Mak- 
er, and, keeping up communion with him ; here- 
in they that ^' professed themselves to be wise, 
became fools," and " the world by wisdom knew 
not God." 

But true Christians are, without doubt, the 
truly wise men. They understand themselves 
best, and on which side their interest lies, who 
give up themselves to the conduct of Christ and 


his word and Spirit ; who consult his oracles, 
and govern themselves by them, which are in- 
deed the true oracles of reason. Men never 
begin to be wise, till they begin to be religious ; 
and they then leave off to be wise, when they 
leave off to do good. 

Now to recommend to us the study and prac- 
tice of this true wisdom, to bring us into a wil- 
ling subjection to her authority, and to keep us 
to. a conscientious observance of her dictates, the 
great God is here, by Solomon, reasoning with 
us, from those topics which, in other cases, are 
cogent and commanding enough. Interest is the 
great governess of the world. Every cme is for 
what he can get, and therefore applies himself to 
that which he thinks he can get by. The com- 
mon inquiry is, " Who will show us any good V* 
We would all be happy, would all be easy. 

Now it is here demonstrated by eternal Truth 
itself, that it is our interest to be religious ; and 
therefore religion deserves to be called wisdom, 
because it teaches us to do well for ourselves. 
And it is certain, that the way to be happy, that 
is, perfectly holy hereafter, is to be holy, that is, . 
truly happy now. It is laid down for a prince 
pie here, '^ Happy is the man that findeth wiso 


dom/' that finds the principlea and habits of it 
planted in his own soul by divine grace ; that, 
having diligently sought, has at length found, 
that " pearl of great price." 

This is that which the text speaks of. We 
are here assured, that the ways of religion are 
ways of pleasantness ;" as if pleasantness were 
confined to those ways, and not to be found any 
where else ; and as if the pleasantness arose not 
fi-om any foreign circumstance, but firom the in- 
nate goodness of the ways themselves. Or it 
denotes the superlative pleasantness of religion ; 
it is as pleasant as pleasantness itself. 

Wisdom's ways are so; that is, the ways 
which she has directed us to walk in, the ways 
of her commandments. They are such, that if 
we keep close to them, and go on in them, we 
shall certainly find true pleasure and satisfao* 

It is added, that '' all her paths are peace." 
Peace is sometimbs put for all good ; here tome 
take it for the good of safety and protection. 
Many ways are pleasant ; they are clean^ and 
look smooth ; but they are dangerous, either not 
sound at bottom, or beset with thieves : but tke 
ways of wisdom have in them a holy security, aft 


well as a holy serenity ; and they that walk in 
them, have God himself for their " shield" as 
well as their " sun/' and are. hot only joyful in 
the hope of good, but are, or may be, " quiet" 
also ^* from the fear of evil." But we may take 
it for the good of pleasure and delight ; and so 
it imports the same as the former part of the 
verse, s As there is " pleasantness" in wisdom's 
ways, so there is ** peace" in all her paths. 

There is not only peace in the end of religion, 
but peace in the way. There is not only peace 
provided as a bed, for good men to lie down in 
at night, w'hen their work is done, and their war* 
fare is acc6mplished, but there is also peace pro- 
vided as a shade, for good men to work in all 
day, that they may not only do their work, but 
do it with delight ; for even the '' work of right- 
eousness," as well as its reward, ''shall be 
peace ;" and the immediate " effect of righteous- 
ness," as well as its issue at last, " quietness and 
assurance hr ^ver." Isaiah xxxii, 17. 

There is not only this peace in the way of re- 
ligion in general, but in the particular ** paths" 
of that way. View it in the several acts and 
instances of it, in the exercise of every grace, in 
the performance of every duty, and you will find, 


that what is said of the body of Christianity, is 
true of every part of it-r-it is*peace. Look into 
all the paths of wisdom, make trial of them all, 
and you will find there are none to be ex- 
cepted, none to be quarrelled witfi. They are 
ail uniform, and of a piece. The same golden 
thread of peace and pleasure runs through the 
whole web of serious godliness. 

We cannot say so of this world, that all its 
paths are peace^ however some of them may pre- 
tend to give thq^mind a little satisfaction. Its plea- 
sures have their allays. That which one thing 
sweetens, another comes presently and embitters. 
But as there is an universal rectitude in the princi- 
ples of religion, as " all its precepts concerning 
all things are right ;" so there is an universal 
peace and pleasure in the practice of religion. 
All our paths, if such as tliey should be, will be 
such as we could wish. 

The doctrine, therefore, contained in these 
words, is this — true piety has true pleasure in it ; 
or thus^ — the ways of religion are pleasant and 
peaceful ways. 


CHAPTEfl I. ' 


It is a plain truth which we have here laid 
down, and there is little in it that needs explica- 
iion. It were well for us, if we would but as 
readily subscribe to the certainty of it, as we 
apprehend the sense and meaning of it. . Nor 
will any complain, that it is hard to be under- 
stood, but those who know no other pleasures 
than those of sense, and relish no other, and 
therefore resolve not to give credit to it. Those 
who think, ' How can this be, that there should 
be pleasure in piety?' will be ready to ask, 
' What is the meaning of this doctrine V and to 
call it ^' a hard saying.'' * 

You know what pleasure is. I hope you 
know, in some degree, what the pleasure of the 
mind is, a pleasure which the soul has the sensa- 

« tion of. And do you not know, in some degree^ 
what piety is, a due regard to a God above us, 

' and having the eyes of the soul ever lifted up 
unto him ? Then you know what I mean when 
I say, that there is an abundance of real pleasure 


and satisfaction in the ways of religion and god- 

I. But to help yoit a little in the understand- 
ing of it, and to prevent mistakes, observe, first, 
that I speak of true piety, and of that as far as it 

1. Hypocrites are very much strangers to the 
delights and pleasures of religion ; nay, they are 
altogether sd, for it is joy which those strangers 
do not intermeddle with. Counterfeit piety can 
never bring in true pleasure. He that acts a part 
upon a stage, though it be the part of one that is 
ever so pleasant, though hie may exhibit the 
pleasantness well, does not experience it. The 
pleasures of God's house lie not in the outer 
courts, but within the veil. None know what 
the "peace of God" means, but those who are 
under the dominion and operation of his grace ; 
nor can any that " deny the power of godliness," 
expect to share in the pleasures of it. " When 
wisdom enters into thine heart,'' takes possession 
of that, and becomes a living, active principle 
there, then, and not till then, it is " pleasant unto 
thy soul." Prov. ii. 10. They who aim at no 
more than the credit of religion before men, 
justly fall short of the comfort of it in themselves. 



Hypocrites have other things that they delight 
in — the satisfactions of the world, the gratifica- 
tiqns of sense ; and these put their mouths out of 
taste for spiritual pleasures, so that they have no 
pleasure in them. They who have their hearts 
upon the marketings, are weary of the "new 
mooiis" and the " sabbaths." Amos viii. 5. With 
good reason therefore does Job ask, " Will the 
hypocrite delight himself in the Almighty?'' 
No ; his soul takes its ease in the creature, and 
returns not to the Creator as its rest and home. 

Some transitory pleasure a hypocrite may ha?e 
in religion, from a land-flood of sensible affec- 
tions, who yet has not the least taste of the " river 
of God's pleasures." There were those who 
" delighted to know God's ways ;" they met with 
some agreeable notions in them, which surprised 
them, and pleased their fancies, but they did not 
delight to walk in them. The stony jground 
" received the word with joy," and yet received 
no lasting benefit by it. Herod " heard John 
gladly." He found something very agreeable in 
his sermons, and something which natural con- 
science could not but embrace, and yet he could 
not bear to be reproved for his Herodias. A 
florid preacher, such as Ezekiel was, may be as 


" a very lovely song of one that can play well on 
an instrument/' and yet, at the same time, the 
word of the Lord, if it touch the conscience, and 
show the people their transgressions, is to them 
a reproach. 

They whose hearts are not right with God in 
their religion, cannot have the {Measures of com« 
munion with God ; for it is the soul only that 
converses with God. '^ Bodily exercise profiteth 
little," and therefore pleases little. The service 
of God is a burden and a task to an unsanctified,^ 
unrenewed heart ; it is out of its element when 
it is brought into that air. Nor can they take; 
any pleasure in communing with their omi con- 
sciences, or in their own reflections; for they 
are ready, upon all occasions, to give them 
uneasiness, by charging them with that which 
is disagreeable to their profession, and gives 
the lie to it. And though they cry "peace, 
peace," to themselves, they have that within 
them, which tells them that the God of heaven 
does not speak " peace" to them ; and this 
casts a damp upon all their pleasure ; so that 
their religion itself gives them pain ; God 
himself is a terror to them, and the gospel itself 
condemns them for their insincerity* In time 


of trouble and distress, none are so much afraid, 
as the " sinners in Zion/' the secret sinners 
there ; and Tearfulness is the greatest surprise of 
all to the hypocrites that were at '* ease in Zion," 
and thought its strong holds would be their se- 
curity, Amos vi. 1. And therefore it is that 
hypocrites cast off religion, and discharge them- 
selves of the profession of it afler they have a 
while disguised themselves with it, because it 
does not sit easy : and they are weary of it. 
Tradesmen who take no pleasure in their busi- 
ness, will not stick to it long ; no more will they 
who take no pleasure in their religion : nor will 
anything carry us through the outward difficulties 
of it, but the inward delights of it ; if these be 
wanting, the tree is not watered, and therefore 
,even " its leaf" will soon " wither." The hypo- 
crite will not always call upon God, will not long 
do it, because he " will not delight himself in 
the Almighty." This ought not to be a stum- 
bling block to us. Hypocrites in religion prove 
apostates from it ; the reason is, because they 
never found it pleasant; they never found it 
pleasant, because they were never sincere in it, 
which was their fault, and not the fault of the re- 
ligion they profei^ed. 


Let US therefore take heed, and beware of 
hypocrisy, if ever we hope to find pleasure in re- 
ligion. Counterfeit piety has some other end in 
view, some other end to serve, than that which is 
the spring of true delight. They who rest in 
. that, " hew them out cisterns" that can hold but 
little water, and that dead water ; nay, " broken 
cisterns" that can hold no water ; and how can 
they expect the pleasure which they have^ who 
cleave to, and continually draw Irom the ** Foun- 
tain of life*' and " living waters ?" No ; as their 
principles are, such are their pleasures ; as their 
aims are, such are their joys ; they appeal to tl^e 
world, and to the world they shall go. But let 
not the credit of religion suffer for the sake of 
those who are only pretenders to it, and indeed 
enemies to it. 

2. It is possible that true Christians may 
through their own fault and folly, want very 
much of the pleasure of religion ; and therefore, 
I say, true piety, as far as it goes, is very pleas- 
ant ; as far as it has its due influence upon us, 
and is rightly understood and lived up to. 

We abide by it, that Wisdom's ways are al- 
ways pleasant, and yet we must own, that Wis- 
dom's children are sometimes unpleasant, and 


therein come short of justifying Wisdom in this 
matter as they ought to do, and rather give ad- 
vantage to her accusers, and prejudice to her 
feause. Either they miss these ways, and turn 
aside out of them, and bo lose the pleasure that 
is .to be found in them ; or they refuse to take 
the comfort which they might have in these ways. 
They hamper themselves with needless perplexi- 
ties, make the yoke heavy which Christ has made 
easy, and that frightful which he designed should 
be encouraging. They indulge themselves, and 
then, as Jonah when he was angry, justify them- 
selves ill causeless griefs and fears, and think 
they do well to put themselves into an agony, to 
be very heavy and sore amazed, and their souls 
exceeding sorrowful. 

But let not true piety suffer in its reputation 
because of this ; for though it be called a reli- 
gious melancholy, it is not so, for it is contrary 
to the very nature and design of religion, while 
it shelters itself under the color of it, and pre- 
tends to ta,ke rise from it. It is rather to be 
called a superstitious melancholy, arising from 
such a slavish fear of God as the heathens were 
driven to by their daBmons and barbarous sacri- 
fices ; and there is a great injury to the honor of 


his goodness, as well as a great injury to them- 

If the professors of religion look for that in 
the world, which is to be had in God only, and 
that is perfect happiness ; or if they look for that 
in themselves, which is to be had in Christ only, 
and that is a perfect righteousness ; or if they 
look for that on earth, which is to be had in heaven 
only, and that is perfect holiness ; and then fret, 
and grieve, and go mourning, from day to day, 
because they are disappointed in their expect- 
ations, they may thank themselves ; ** Why seek 
they the living among the dead V 

Let but religion, true and pure religion, in all 
the laws and instances of it, command and pre- 
vail, and these tears will soon be wiped away. 
Let but God's servants take their work before 
them, allow each principle of their religion its 
due weight, and each practice of it its due place 
and proportion ; and let them not dash one pre* 
cept of the gospel, any more than one table of 
the law, in pieces against the other ; let them 
look upon it to be as much their duty to rejoice 
in Christ Jesus, as to mourn for sin ; nay, and 
more, for this mourning is in order to that joy ; 
and then we shall not fear, that their sorrows 


will, in the least, shake the triith of our doctrine, 
for as far as religion is carried, it will carry this 
character along with it, and farther it cannot be 

II. In true piety, I say, there is a pleasure ; 
there is that which we may find comfort in, and 
fetch satisfaction from. There is a pleasant 
good, as well as an useful one. That is pleas- 
ant, which is agreeable, which the soul rejoices 
in, or, at least, reposes in ; which it relishes, 
pleases itsejf with, and desires the continuance 
and repetition of. Let a man's faculties be in 
their due frame and temper, not vitiated, corrup- 
ted, or depraved, and there is that in the exer- 
cise of religion, which highly suits them, and 
satisfies them. And this pleasure is such as is 
not allayed with anything to cast a damp upon 

1. The ways of religion are right and pleas- 
ant; they are pleasant without the allay of inju- 
ry and iniquity. Sin pretends to have its pleas- 
ures, but they are the ''perverting of that which 
is right ; " they are " stolen waters," unjust, 
though pleasant ; but the pleasures of godliness 
are as agreeable to the rectitude of our nature, 
as they are gratifying to the pure and undebauch* 


ed desires of it. It is " the way in which we 
should go ;" and the way in which, if we were 
not wretchedly degenerated, we would go of 

They are right, for they are marked out to us 
hy our rightful Lord, who having given us 
the being of rational creatures, has authority to 
give us a law suited to our being ; and he has 
done it both by natural conscience, and by the 
written word. He has said, ** This is the way^ 
walk ye in it.'' It is not only permitted and 
allowed us, but charged and commanded us, to 
walk in it. He has sent us, as messengers from 
him, to travel this road upon his errand. 

They are right, for they lead directly to our 
great end ; they have a tendency to our welfare 
here and for ever. They are the only right 
way to that which is the felicity of our being,, 
which we shall certainly miss and come short of^ 
if we do not walk in this way. 

But that is not all ; they are also pleasant ; 
" Behold how good and how pleasant !" It is 
the happiness of those who fear God, that he not 
only " teaches them in the way that he shall 
choose," but also that "their souls shall dwell 
lit ease." Justly may they dwell at eaiSe, who 


have infinite Wisdom itself to choose their way, 
and guide them in it. That may be right which 
is not pleasant, and that pleasant, which is not 
right ; but religion is both : therefore in the next 
verse it is compared to the tree of life. . The 
tree of knowledge was indeed '' pleasant to the 
eyes, " and a " tree to be desired, " but it was 
forbidden ; and therefore religion is called a 
" tree of life," which was not only pleasant, but 
was allowed till sin entered. 

2. They are easy and pleasant ; pleasant with- 
out the allay of toil and difficulty, any more than 
what arises from the corruption of our own nar 
ture. That indeed makes such opposition, that 
we have need of arguments to prove the practice 
of religion easy : but it is more than this, it is 

Much less is said than is intended, when we 
are told that '' his commandments are not griev- 
ous." They are not only not grievous and gall- 
ing, but they are gracious and pleasing. His 
yoke is " easy." The word there used, signifies 
more than easy ; it is sweet and gentle ; not only 
easy as a yoke is to the neck, when it is so well 
fitted as not to hurt it, but easy as a pillow is to 
the head when the head is weary and sleepy. 


It is not only tolerable, but very comfortable. 
There is not only no matter of complaint in the 
ways of God, nothing to hurt us, but there is 
abundant matter of joy and rejoicing. It is not 
only work which is not weariness, but work 
which is its own wages ; such a tree of life as 
will not only screen us from the storp and tem- 
pest, and feed us with necessary food, but we 
may "sit down under the shadow of it with 
great delight, and the fruit of it will be sweet 
unto our taste." 

3. They are gainful and pleasant, and have 
not the allay of expense and loss. That may 
be profitable, which yet may be unpleasant, and 
that unpleasant which afterward may prove very 
unprofitable and prejudicial. But religion brings 
both pleasure with it, and profit after it. The 
pleasures of religion do not cost us dear ; there 
is no loss by them when the account comes to be 
balanced. The gain of this world is usually 
fetched in by toil, and uneasy labor, which are 
grievous to flesh and blood. The servants of 
this world are drudges to it ; they " rise up early 
sit up late," and " eat the bread of sorrows," in 
pursuit of its wealth: they labor, and bereave 
their souls of good. But the servimts of God 


have a pleasure even in the work they are to get 
by, and which they shall be recompensed for. 
Beside the tendency that there is in the practice 
of serious godliness, to our happiness in the 
other life, there is mtich in it that conduces to 
our comfort in this life. David observes, to the 
honor of religion, that not only after keeping, 
but '' in keeping God's commandments, there is 
a great reward ;" a p^resent great reward of obe- 
dience in obedience. '' A good man is satisfied 
from himself," that is, from that which divine 
grace has wrought in him ; and the saints are 
said to " sing in the ways of the Lord," as those 
that find them pleasant ways. 

The more closely we adhere to the rules of 
religion, the more intimate our converse is with 
divine thiqgs ; and the more we live with an eye 
to Christ and another world, the more comfort 
we are likely to have in our bosoms. " (Jreat 
peace have they that love God's law," and the 
more they love it, the greater their peace is ; 
nay, it is promised to the church, that " all her 
children shall be taught of the Lord," and then 
'* great shall 'be the peace of her children ;" it 
shall be entailed upon them — " peace like a 
river," rolling on from age to age. 


III. I call it a true pleasure. As there is 
science falsely so called, so there is pleasure 
falsely so called. But this we are sure of, that 
it is a true pleasure which religion secures to us ,* 
a pleasure that deserves the name, and answers 
it to the full. 

1. It is a true pleasure, for it is real and not 
counterfeit. Carnal worldings pretend a great 
satisfaction in the enjoyments of the world and 
the gratifications of sense. " Soul, take thine 
ease," says one ; " I have found me out sub- 
stance,'' says another, even " the life of ray 
hand." " The wicked boasts of his heart's de- 
sire ;" but Solomon assures us, not only that the 
" end of that mirth is heaviness," but that even 
in "laughter the heart is sorrowful." Both 
those that make a God of their belly, and those 
that make a God of their money, find such a con- 
stant pain and uneasiness attending their spiritu- 
al idolatries, that their pleasure is but from the 
teeth outward. Discontent at present disappoint- 
ments and the fear of worse ; ungoverned pas- 
sions, which seldom are made less turbulent by 
the gratifications of the appetite, and above all, 
conscience of guilt and dread of divine wrath — 
these give them the lie when they boast of their 


pleasures, which, with such allays, are not to be 
boasted of. They would not be thought to be 
disappointed in that which they have chosen for 
their happiness, and therefore they seem to be 
pleased, when really their heart cannot but 
" know its own bitterness." 

And many of the good things of this world, 
of which we said, * These same shall comfort us,' 
prove vexations to us ; and we are disappointed 
in that, wherein we most promised ourselves 
satisfaction. " If we say. Our bed shall comfort 
us," perhaps it is not a bed to rest on, but a bed 
to toss on, as it was to poor Job, when " weari- 
some nights were appointed to him." Nay, 
such strangers are we to real pleasure in the 
things of this life, and so often do we deceive 
ourselves with that which is counterfeit, that we 
wish to live to those days of life which we are 
told will be "evil days," and those years of 
which we are assured that we shall say, " We 
have no pleasure in them." 

But the pleasures of religion are solid substan- 
tial pleasures, and not painted ; gold, and not 
gilded over. These sons of pleasure "inherit 
substance." It is that which is the firm founda- 
tion, the strong superstructure, the " consolations 


of God," which are neither few nor small ; while 

a vain and foolish world " cause their eyes to fly. 

upon that which is not." Worldly people pre* 

tend to the joy they have not ; but godly people 

conceal the joy they have. They have, like their 

Master, '' meat to eat which the world knows^ 

not of." 

2. It is rational, and not brutish. It is the 

pleasure of the soul, not of sense ; it is the pecu- 
liar pleasure of a man, not that which we have 
in common with the inferior creatures. The 
pleasures of religion are not those of the mere 
animal life, which arise from the gratification of 
the senses of the body and its appetites ; no, they 
affect the soul, that part of us by which we are 
allied to the world of spirits, that noble part of 
us ; and thei:efore are to be called the true pleas- 
ures of a man. 

The brute creatures have the same pleasures 
of sense that we have, and perhaps, in some of 
them the senses are more exquisite, and conse- 
quently Aey have them in a much higher degree ; 
nor are their pleasures liable to the correctives 
of reason and conscience, as ours are. Who 
live such merry lives as the Leviathan^ who 


" plays in the deep," or as the birds that " sing 
among the branches ?" 

But what are these to a man, who, being 
" taught more than the beasts of the earth, and 
made wiser than the fowls of heaven," and being 
dignified above the beasts, not so m\ich by the 
powers of reason, as by a capacity for religion, 
is certainly designed for enjoyments of a more 
excellent nature ; for spiritual and heavenly de- 
lights? When God made man, he left him not 
to the enjoyments of the wide world with the 
other creatures, but enclosed him a paradise, a 
garden of pleasure, where he should have delights 
proper for him ; signified indeed by the pleasures 
of a garden, pleasant trees, and their firuits, but 
really the delights of a soul which was a ray of 
divine light, and a spark of divine fire newly 
breathed into him from above, and on which 
God's image and likeness were imprinted. And 
we never recover the felicity, which we lost by 
our first parents' indulging the appetite of the 
body, till we come to the due relish of those 
pleasures which man has in common with angelsj^ 
and a due contempt of those which he basin com- 
mon with the brutes. 

The pleasures of Wisdom's ways may at se- 


cond-hand affect the body, and be an advantage 
to that ; hence it is said to be " health to the 
navel," and " marrow to the bones ;" but its resi- 
dence is in the '* hidden man of the heart," and 
its comforts * delight the soul in the multitude of 
its thoughts.' It is pleasant to the soul, and 
makes it like a watered garden. These are 
pleasures which a man, by the assistance of di- 
vine grace, may reason himself into, and not, as 
it is with sensual pleasures, reason himself out 

There is no pleasure separate from that of re- 
ligion, which pretends to be an intellectpal pleas- 
ure, except that of learning and that of honor ; 
but as to the pleasure of a proud man in his dig- 
nities, and the respecls paid him, in the accla- 
mations of a crowd, it does but affect the fancy. 
It is vain-glory, it is not glory. It is but the 
folly of him that receives the honor, fed by the 
folly of them that give it. So that it does not 
deserve to be called a rational pleasure. It is a 
lust of the mind that is gratified by it, and that is 
as much an instance of our degeneracy, as any 
of the lusts of the flesh are. 

And as to the pleasure of a scholar, abstracted 
from religion, it is indeed rational and intellectu^ 


al ; bat it is only the pleasure of the mind in 
knowing truths and not its enjoying good. Sol- 
omon who had as much of this pleasure as ever 
any man had, and as nice a taste of it, yet has 
assured us from his own experience that in 
" much wisdom" of this kind is " much grief," 
and ** he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth 
sorrow." But the pleasures which a holy soul 
has in knowing God and in communion with 
him, are not only of a spiritual nature, but they 
are satisfying; they fill the soul, and make a 
happiness adequate to its best affections. 

3. It is durable, and not flashy and transitory. 
That is true pleasure, which will continue with 
us a " tree of life," and not wither as the ** green 
herb ;" which will be, not as the light of a candle, 
which is soon burnt out, but as that of the sun, 
which is a faithful witness in heaven. We 
reckon that most valuable, which is most dura- 

The Measures of sense are fading and perish- 
ing ; as the " world passeth away," so do " the 
lusts of it :" that which at first pleases and satis- 
fies, afler a while palls and surfeits. *' As the 
crackling of thorns under a pot," which makes 
a great blaze and a great noise for a little while. 


but soon end in soot and ashes, isuch is the 
" laughter of the fool," the " end of his mirth 
is heavine^." But the pleasures of religion 
will abide. They wither not in the winter, nor 
tarnish with time, nor does age wrinkle their 
beauty. Frosts nip them not, nor do storms 
blast them. They continue through the great- 
est opposition of events, and d«spise that time and 
"chance," which '* happens to all things under 
the sun." Believers, when they are sorrowful, 
are but " as sorrowful," for they are " always 
rejoicing." If an immortal soul makes an eter- 
nal God its chief joy, what should hinder but that 
it should " rejoice evermore ?" for as the trea- 
sure, so the pleasure, is laid up there, where 
** neither moth nor rust can corrupt, nor thieves 
break through and steal." The joy which Christ 
gives to those that are his, is joy which " no man 
taketh from them :" it is their heart that rejoices. 
Their joys are the beginning of everlasting^ 
pleasures, the earnest and foretastes of them : 
so that they are in effect, ** pleasures for ever- 

The great truth then, which I desire my heart 
and yours may be fully convinced of, is this : — 
a holy, heavenly life, spent in the service of God 


and in communion with him, is, without doubt, 
the most pleasant and comfortable life any man 
can live in this world. 





The doctrine needs no further explanation, 
nor can have any better than our own experi- 
ence of it; but the chief part of this undertak- 
ing is to prove the truth of it. And oh that God 
would set it before us in a true light, so that we 
may all be convinced of it, and embrace it as a 
faithful saying and well worthy of all acceptation 
that a godly life is a pleasant life ; and that we 
may be wrought upon to live such a life ! 

Pleasure is a tempting thing. What yields 
delight cannot but attract desire. Surely, if we 
were but fully persuaded of this, that religion 
has pleasure on its side, we should be wrought 
upon by the allurement of it to be religious. It 
is certainly so ; let us not be in doubt of it. 
Here is a bait that has no hook under it, a plea- 
sure courting you which has no pain attending 
it, no bitterness at the latter end of it; a pleas- 


ure which God himself invites you to, and which 
will make you happy, truly and eternally happy ; 
and shall not this work upon you ? 

To make way for the proof of it, I would only 
desire two things — first; that you would lay 
aside prejudice and give a fair and impartial 
hearing to this cause, and not prejudge it. He 
that answers any matter before he hears it out, 
it is ** folly and shame" to him ; especially if it 
be matter of great importance and concern to 
himself, a matter of life and death. Be willing 
therefore to believe, that it is possible there may 
be, and then I doubt not but to make out that it 
is certain there is, true pleasure in true religion. 

You have a notion, it may be, and are con« 
firmed in it by the common cry of the multitude^ 
that religion is a sour melancholy thing ; that it 
is to bid farewell to all pleasure and delight, and 
to spend your days in grief, and your years in 
sighing ; and if we offer anything to the con-^ 
trary, and tell you that it is a pleasant thing, and 
tho best entertainment that can be to the mind^ 
you are ready to say, as EzekiePs hearers did of 
him, " Doth he not speak parables V Doen b0 
not speak paradoxes? You 9tartl0 at it^ mi 
start firom it as a hjard paying. As Uu\^^iA 


said, " Can any good thing come out of Naza- 
reth V* so you are ready to say, * Can there be 
any pleasure in religion?' Believe it, there can 
be, there cannot but be, pleasure in it. 

Do not measure religion by the foUies of some 
who profess it, but do not live up to their profes- 
sion, nor adorn it ; let them bear their own bur- 
den, or clear themselves as they can ; but you 
are to judge of things, not persons, and there- 
fore ought not to be prejudiced against religion 
for their sakes. Nor should you measure it by 
the ill opinions which its adversaries have of it ; 
or the ill name which they endeavor to put on it, 
who neither know it, nor love it, and therefore 
care not what unjust things they say to justify 
themselves in the contempt of it, and to hinder 
others from embracing it; but think freely of this 

I desire, secondly, that you would admit this 
as a principle and abide by it — that the soul is 
the man. This is the postulatum that I lay 
down, in order to the proof of the doctrine; and 
I hope it will be readily granted to me, that man 
is principally to be considered as aii intellectual 
immortal being endued with spiritual powers and 
capacities, allied to the world of spirits, and ac- 


countable to th6 Father of spirits ; that there is a 
spirit in man, which has sensations and disposi- 
tions of its own, active and receptive faculties dis- 
tinct from those of the body : and that this is the 
part of us, which we are, and ought to be most 
concerned about ; because it is really well or ill 
with us, according as it is well or ill with our 
souls. Believe, that in man's present state, the 
soul and the body have separate and contending 
interests ; the body thinks it is its interest to 
have its appetites gratified, and to be indulged 
in its pleasures ; while the soul knows it is its 
interest to have' the appetites of the body subdu- 
ed lind mortified, that spiritual pleasures may be 
the better relished ; and we are here upon our 
trial, which of these two we will side with. Be 
wise, therefore ; be resolute, and show your- 
selves men who are a^ctuated and governed by 
reason, and are affected with things as reason 
represents them to you ; not reason as it is in 
the mere natural man, clouded, and plunged and 
lost in sense ; but reason elevated and guided by 
divine revelation to us, and divine grace in us. 
Walk by faith, and not by sense. Let the God 
that made you and knows you, and wishes you 
well, and from whom your judgment must pro- 


ceed^ determine your sentiments in this matter, 
and the work is done. 

Now I shall, in the first place, endeavor to 
prove this doctrine, by showing you what reli- 
gion is, wherein it consists, and what those 
things are which ' constitute serious godliness ; 
and then you shall yourselves judge, whether it 
be not in its own nature pleasant. If you un- 
derstand religion aright, you will find, that it has 
an innate sweetness in it, inseparable firom it. 
Let it speak for itself, and it will recommend 
itself The very exhibition of it in its own fea- 
tures and proportion, is enough to bring us all 
in love with it. 

You may see the pleasures of religion in 
twelve instances of it. 

1. To be religious is " to know the only true 
God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent." 
And is not this pleasant ? This is the first thing 
we have to do, to get our understandings rightly 
informed concerning both the object and the 
medium of our religious regards, to seek and to 
receive this light from heaven, to have it difius- 
ed through our souls as the morning light in the 
air, and to be turned to the impressian of it, '' as 
the clay to the seal ;" and this is a pleasure to 


the soul that understands itself, and its own true 
interest. ** Truly the light is sweet, and a pleas- 
ant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun ;" it 
'* rejoiceth the heart." Hence light is often put 
for joy and comfort; but no light is comparable 
to that of " the knowledge of the glory of God 
in the face of Jesus Christ." This is finding the 
knowledge we had lost, and must for ever have de- 
spaired of finding, if God had not made it known 
to us by the Spirit. It is finding the knowledge 
that we are undone without, and happy for ever 
in ; for what is heaven but this knowledge in per- 
fection ? It is finding the knowledge which the 
soul would covet and rest in, if it had but re- 
covered itself from the delirium, which by the 
fall it is thrown into. They that " sat in dark- 
ness," when they begin to be religious, begin to 
^* see a great light." It is a pleasing surprise to 
them ; it is coming into a new world ; such a 
pleasure as none could know so well, as he that 
had his sight given him, though he was " born 
blind." " Blessed are your eyes," says Christ 
to those whom he had brought into an acquaint- 
ance with himself, " for they see." ** Apply thy 
heart to ttay knowledge," says Solomon, ''. for it 


is a pleasant thing if thou keep it within thee." 
Thou wilt " eat honey, because it is good, and 
the honeycomb, which is sweet to the taste ; so 
shall the knowledge of wisdom be to thy soul." 
Could a learned man, that had hit upon a demon- 
stration in mathematics, cry out in a transport of 
joy, ** I have found it, — I have found it ;" and 
may not they much more boast of their discovery, 
who have found the knowledge of the Most 

There is no pleasure in any learning like 
that of learning Christ, and the things that be- 
long to our everlasting peace ; for that which is 
known is not small and trivial, is not doubtful 
and uncertain, is not foreign to us, and which 
we are not conceriled in ; but it is great and 
sure, and of the last importance to us, and the 
knowledge of it gives us satisfaction. Here we 
may rest our souls. To know the perfections of 
the divine nature, the unsearchable riches of di- 
vine grace ; to be led into the mystery of our re- 
demption and reconciliation by Christ — this is 
food ; such knowledge as this is a feast to the 
Boul : it is meat indeed and drink indeed, it is 
tihe knowledge of that '' which the angels desire 
to look into." If the knowledge of the law of 


€k>d was so sweet to David, *' sweeter than hoaey 
to liis taste/' how much more should the knowl- 
edge of the gospel of Christ be so to us. 

II. To be religious is to return to God, and 
repose in him as the rest of our souls. And is 
jtot this pleasant t It is not only for our under- 
Blandings to embrace the knowledge of him, btrt 
our affections to fasten upon the enjoyment of 
bim. It is to love God as our chief good, and to 
rest in that love ; to ^ love him with all our heart, 
and soul, and mind, and strength,' who is well wor- 
thy of all that love, and infinitely more ; amiable in 
himself, gracibus to us ; who will accept our love 
and return it ; who has promised to *' love those 
that love him." The love of God reigning in the 
90ul (and that is true religion) is as much a sat- 
isfaction to the soul, as the love of the world m a 
vexation to it, when it comes to be reflected 
upon, and is found to be so ill bestowed. How 
pleasant mast it needs be so far to recover 
ourselves as to quit the world for a portion and 
happiness, and to depend upon him to be so, 
who has enough in him to answer out utmcust 
expectations ! — when we have in vain sought for 
satisfaction where it is not to be had, to seek it 
MoA fiiid it where it is l^^^to come from dostiag 


upon * lying vanities/ and * spending our monej 
for that which is not bread/ to live, and live 
plentifully upon a God that is enough, a God all- 
sufficient : and in him to enjoy * our own mer- 
cies !' Did ever -anything speak a mind more- 
easy and better pleased than that saying of David, 
** Returff unto thy rest, O my soul /' to God as 
thy rest ; for in him I am what I would be; I am 
where I would be ; I have what I would have ! 
or this, '^ O my soul, thou hast said unto the 
Lord ; thou art my Lord, the portion of my in- 
heritance, and of my cup." And then again, 
" The lines are fallen to me jn pleasant places, 
and I have a goodly heritage ;" or this, " Whom 
have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon 
earth that I desire in comparison of thee ; for 
when flesh and heart fail, thou art the strength'' 
and joy *' of my heart, and my portion for ever." 
Ps. Ixxiii. 25, 26. 

.Religion consists not in raptures and trans- 
ports ; yet, without doubt, holy souls that are at 
home in God, that have " made the Most High 
their habitation," whose desires are towards him 
whose delights are in him, who are in him as 
their centre and element, " dwell at ease." 
None can imagine the pleasure that a believer 


has in his covedant-relation to God, and interest 
in him, and the assurance of his love. Have I 
taken -"thy testimonies" to be " my heritage for 
ever?" surely they are the "rejoicing of my 
heart ;" I cannot be better provided for. When 
king Asa brought his people to renew their cove- 
nant with God, it is said *' they sware unto the 
Lord with a loud voice and with shoutings, and 
with trumpets," 2 Chron. xv. 14, 15. " And all 
Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn 
with all their heart.'' When we come to make 
it our own act and deed, to join ourselves to the 
Lord in an everlasting covenant, and are upright 
with him in it, we cannot but be pleased with 
what we have done. It is a marriage covenant ; 
it is made with joy ; " My beloved is mine, and 
I am his." 

III. To be religious is to come to God as a 
Father, in and by Jesu^ Christ as a Mediator. 
And is not this pleasant ? We have not only 
the pleasure of knowing and loving God, but the 
pleasure-of drawing nigh to him, and having by 
faith an humble freedom and intimacy with him. 
" Blessed are they that dwell in his courts ! 
They shall be satisfied with the goodness of his 
house, even of his holy temple." 


Religion is described by coming to God; uid 
what can be more agreealble to a soul that corner 
from him ? It is to come to God as a child to 
his father, to his father's house, to his father's 
arms, and to cry^ ** Abba, Father." To come as 
a petitioner to his prince, is a privilege ; but to 
come as a child to his father, is a pleasure : and 
this pleasure have all the saints who have recei** 
ved the " spirit of adoption." They can look up 
to the God that made them, as one that loves 
them, and has a tender compassion for them, as 
a father has for his children, and delights to do 
them good, taking pleasure in their prosperity ;" 
as one who, though they have offended him is 
yet reconciled to* them, owns them as his chil- 
dren, and encourages them to call him Father. 
When he afflicts them, they know it is in love, 
and for their benefit, and that Still it is '' their 
Father's good pleasure to give them the king^ 

But this is not all. It is not only to come to 
God as a father, who himself loves us, but it is 
to come to him in the name of Jesus Christ, who 
is our " Advocate with the Father ;" that hf 
these ** two immutable things we might have 
strong consolation," that we have not only a God 


to go to, but an Advocate to introduce us to him 
and speak for us. Believing in Christ is some- 
times expressed by rejoicing in him ; for it is a 
complacency of soul in the methods which infi- 
nite wisdom has taken, of bringing God and man 
together by a Mediator. '* We are' the circum- 
cision that rejoice in Christ Jesus," not only 
rely upon him, but triumph in him. Paul is not 
only not ashamed of the cross of Christ, but he 
glories in it. And when the eunuch is brought 
to " believe in Christ with all his heart," he 
*' goes on his way rejoicing,^' highly pleased with 
what he has done. 

What a pleasure, what a satisfaction is it, to 
lodge the great concerns of our souls and eterni- 
ty in such a skilful faithful hand as that of our 
Lord Jesus'! to cast the burden upon him who 
is ^ able to save to the uttermost," and as willing 
as he is able, and thus to make ourselves easy! 
How is blessed Paul elevated at the thought of 
this ! " Who is he that condemneth ? it is Christ 
that died, yea, rather that is risen again." And 
with what pleasui'e does he reflect upon the con- 
fidence he had put in Jesus Christ ! " I know 
whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he 
is able to keep that which I have committed to 


him against that day." They that know what it is 
to be in pain for sin, and in care to obtain the fa- 
vor of God, cannot but know what a pleasure it is 
to believe in Christ ^b the propitiation for our sins^ 
and our intercessor with God. How can we live 
a more pleasant life, than to ** live by the faith of 
the Son of God ;'* to be continually depending 
on him, and deriving from him, and referring all 
to him; and, as we have received him, so to 
" walk in him ?" It is in " believing," that w^ 
ar^ '* filled with joy a^nd peace." 

IV. To be religious is to enjoy God ip all our- 
creature comforts. And is not that pleasant? 
It is to take the common supports and obn- 
veniences of life, be they of the richest or be 
they of the meanest kind, as the products of his 
providential care concerning us, a,nd the gifls of 
his bounty to us ; and in them to ** taste and 
se^ that the Lord is good/' good to all, good to 
us. It is to look above second causes to th? 
first cause, through the creature to the Creator^ 
and to say couoerning everything wUolpi is 
agreeable and serviceable to us, ' This I asked 
and this I have firom the hand oC my he9,venly 
Father.' What a noble taste and reljsh doe^i 
tUs pujt into all the blessings with if^hipti we i^q, 

A SELI010U8 UFfi. 43 

daily loaded, our health and ease, our rest and 
sleep, our food and raiment, all the satisfaction 
we have in our relations, peace in our dwellings, 
success in our callings ! The sweetness of these 
is more than doubled, it is highly raised, when 
by our religion we are enabled to see thea% all , 
eoming to us from the goodness of God, as our 
great benefactor, and thus to enjoy them richly ; 
while those who look no further than the prea** 
ture, enjoy Ihem very poorly,, and only as the 
inferior creatures do. 

Carnal, irreligious people, though they take. a. 
greater liberty in the use of the delights of sense 
than good people dare take, and therein think 
they have the advantage of them^ yet they have 
not half the tjcue delight in them that good 
people have ; not only because idl excesses are a. 
force upon nature, and surfeits are as painful a& 
hunger and thirst, but becivuse> they deprive 
themselves of the comfort of receiving them 
from th^r Father'a hand^and are not affected 
to him as. obedient children. They make use 
of the creature, but " they have not, looked unto 
the, Mc^ev thereof^ nor had resped to him that 
$^hu>^<^ it long; i^o/' as^ goo^ people do ; ajid 


80 they come short of the pleasure which good 
people have. 

Is it not pleasant to taste cpvenant love in 
common mercies ? very pleasant to see the hand 
of out heavenly Father spreading our table, 
vfiMing our cup, making our houses safe, and our 
rest easy ? This they do, who by faith have 
their eyes ever towards the Lord, who by prayer 
fetch in his blessing upon all their enjoyments, 
and by praise give the glory of them to that 
mercy of his which " endureth forever." And 
when a continual regard is thus had to that 
mercy, an abundant * sweetness is thereby in- 
fused into ail the comforts of this life ; for as 
the wrath and curse of God is " the wormwood 
and the gall " in afl the afflictions and miseries, 
so his loving-kindness is the honey and oil in all 
the comforts and enjoyments of this life. It is 
this which is " better tha(n life,." and which is 
abundantly satisfying ; which " puts gladness 
into the heart, beyond the joy of harvest." 
Then the " nations are glad and sing for joy," 
when not only " the earth yields her increase," 
but with it " God, even their own God, gives 
them his blessing." And when the church is 

▲ RSU«il>99 LIVE* 45 

brought to such ii sense of' God's grace as to cry 
out, " How gre^t is his goodnessy and how great 
is his beauty ! " it follows, that then '^ corn shaU 
make the young men oheerful ; '' intimating 
that we have no joy of our enjoyments, no true 
joy of them, till we are led by these streams to 
the fountain. Zech. ix. 17. 

y. To be religious is to cast all our cares upon 
God, and to commit all our ways and. works to 
him, with an assurance that ** he will care for' 
lis.'' And is Qot this pleasant? It is a very 
sensicble pleasure to be eased of some pressing 
burden which we are ready to sink under ; and 
care is such a burden } it is a heaviness in the 
heart of man, which makes it to stoop. Now 
true religion enables us to ** acknowledge God 
in all our ways;^' and then to depend upon him 
to direct our steps, and to follow hi^ directions, 
not leaning to our own understanding. It is to 
refer ourselves, and the disposal of everything 
that concerns us in this world, to God, and to 
his will and )visdom, with an entire acquies- 
cence in his award and arbitratibnT *' Her.^ I 
am; let the Lord, do with me as seemeth good 
in his eyes." 


To be truly godly is to have our wills melted 
into the will of God in everything, and to say 
' Amen ' to it, not only as a prayer, but as a 
covenant, s It is to be fully reconciled to all the 
disposals of the divine providence and methods 
of divine grace, both concerning others and 
ourselves; to be satisfied that all is well that 
God does, and will appear so at last,' when the 
mystery of God shall be finished.- And how 
does the mind enjoy itself that i^ come to this ! 
How easy ig it ! It is not only freed from 
racking anxieties, but filled with pleasing pros- 
pects : ffears are hereby silenced, and hopes 
kept up and elevated. Nothing can borne amiss 
to those who have thus been taught by the 
principles of their religion to make the best of 
that which is, because it is the will of God ; 
and this is making a virtue of necessity. What 
uncomfortable lives do they live, who are con- 
tinually fretting at that which cannot be helped, 
quarrelling with the disposals of Providence, 
when they cannot alter them; and thus by 
contracting guilt, as well as by indulging grief, 
doubling every burden ! But how pleasantly do 
they travel through the wilderness of this world, 
who constantly follow the pillar of cloud and 


fire, and aGCommodate themselves to their lot, 
wha.teTer it is ! who^ like Paul, through Christ 
strengthening them, have learned m every state 
to be content, *^ knowing how to want and how 
to abound ! " 

VI. To be religious is to "rejoice in the 
Lord always." And is not this pleasant? It is 
not only one of the privileges of our religion 
that we may rejoice, but it is made one of the 
duties of it. We are- defective in our religion, 
if we do not live a life of complacency in God, 
in his being; his attributes, and his relation to 
us. It should be a constant pleasure to us, to 
thiak that there is a God ; that he is such an 
one as the scripture hath revealed him to be, a 
Being infinitely wise and power fhl, holy, just 
and good ; that this God governs the world, and 
gives law to all the t^reatures ; that he is our 
!6wner and ruler ; that in his hand our breath is, 
in his hand our times, our hearts, and all our 
ways are. Thus certainly it is, and thus it must 
be ; and happy they who can please themselves 
with these thoughts I They must need« be a 
constant terror to themselves, who could wish it 
were otherwise. 


They who thtts delight in God haye always 
something, and something very commanding too, 
io delight in ; a fountain of ^y which can never 
be either exhausted or stopped up, and to which 
they may always have access. How few are 
there that ** live many days," and " rejoice in 
them all !" Such a thing is supposed indeed, 
but it is nevet found true in any, except in those 
that make God their joy, the. gladness of their 
joy ; as the Psalmist expresses it, their " exceed- 
itig joy :" and in him it is intended the joy should 
terminate, when we are bid to ^* rejoice ever- 
more." 1 Thess. V. 16. 

y IL To be rdigious is to make a business 
of praising God. And is not that pleasant ? It 
is indeed very unpleasant and contrary to our in- 
diikation, to be obliged continually to praise one^ 
that is not worthy of praise ; but what can be 
more pleasant, than tb praise him to whom all 
praise is due, and ours particularly ; to whom 
' we and alj the creatures lie under all possible 
obligations; who is worthy of, and yet exalted 
far above, all blessings and praise; from whom 
all things are, and therefore to whom all things 
ought to be? 


There is little pleasure in praising one, whom 
none praise that are wise uid good, only the 
fools in Israel ; hut in praising God we concur 
with the blessed angels in heaven, and all the 
saints ; and 'do it in concert with them, who.||f>6 
more they know him, the more they praise him. 
*' Bless the Lord, ye, his angels, and all bis 
hosts ;" an4 therefore with what pleasure can I 
cast my mite into such a treasury ; *' Bless the 
Lord, O my soul T' 

There is little pleasure in praising one, who 
will not regard our praises, nor take notice of 
our expressions of esteem and affection ; but 
when we ' ' offbr to God the sacrifice of praise 
continually,' that is ' the fruit of our lips, gir- 
ing thanks to his name,'' we offer it to one that 
takes notice of it, accepts it, is well pleased with 
it, smells '' a savor of rest" from it, and will not 
fail to meet those with his mercies, who follow 
him with their praises ; for he has said, that they 
who " offer praise, glorify him ;" such a favor- 
able construction does he put upon it, such a 
high stamp upon coarse metal. 

Now what is it that we have to do in religion 
but to praise God? We are taken into a cove- 
nant with God, that we should be to him ** for 


a name, and for a praise ;" are called into his 
" marvellous light/' that we should " show forth 
the praises of him that called us/' And how can 
we be more comfortably employed ? They are 
therefore '' blessed that dwell in God's house/^ 
for " they will be still praising him." And " it 
is a good thing/' good in itself and good for us, 
it is very pleasant, " to give thanks unto the 
Lord/', and to " shew forth his praises/' for we 
cannot do ourselves a greater honor^ or fetch in 
a greater satisfaction,, than by " giving unto the 
Lord the glory due unto his name/' It is not 
only a heaven upon earth, but it is a pledge and 
earnest of a heaven in heaven too ; for if we be 
here " every day blessing God," we shall be 
"praising him for ever and ever /' for thus all 
who will go to heaven hereafter, begin their 
heaven now. Compare the hellish pleasure 
which some take in profaning the name of God, 
and the heavenly pleasure which others take in 
glorifying it, and tell me which is preferable. 

VIII. To be religious is to have all our inor- 
dinate appetites (Corrected, and regulated. And 
is not this also pleasant ? To be eased from 
pain is a sensible pleasure, and to be eased from 
that which is the disease and disorder of the 


mind, is a mental pleasure. Those certainly 
live a most unpleasant, uncomfortable life, who 
are slaves to their appetites, and indulge them- 
selves in the gratifications of sense, though ever 
so criminal ; who lay the reins in the neck of 
their lusts, and withhold not their hearts from 
any joy. Drunkards and unclean persons, 
though they are said to give themselves up to 
their pleasures, yet really estrange themselves 
from that which is true pleasure, and subject 
themselves to a continual pain and uneasiness. 
The cari^l appetite is often overcharged, and 
that is a burden to the body, and its distemper. 
When enough is as good as a feast, 1 wonder 
what pleasure it can be to take more than enough ; 
:and the appetite, the more it is indulged, the more 
^umorsome and troublesome it grows : it is sur- 
feited, but not satisfied ; it does but grow more im- 
ipetuous and more imperious. What Solomon says 
of a servant is true of the body. *- He that deli- 
cately bringeth up his servant from a child shall 
have him become his son," nay his master, "at 
the length." If we suffer the body to get dominion 
over the soul, so that the interests of the soul 
must be damaged to gratify the inclinations of 
ithe body, it will be a tyrant, as an usurper gen- 


erally is, and will rule with rigor ; and as God 
said to the people, when by Samuel he had 
showed them " the manner of the king ** that 
they chose, " You will cry out in that day be- 
cause of your king which ye have chosen you, 
and the Lord will not hear ;" so it is with those 
that bring themselves into disorders, diseases, 
Und terrors, by the indulgence of their lusts. 
Who can pity them 1 They are well enough serv- 
ed for setting such a king over them. '' Who 
hath sorrow V* None so much as they that " tarry 
long at the wine/' though they think themselves 
to have the monopoly of pleasure. The truth is, 
they who live in these pleasures are '' dead while 
they live," and while they fancy themselves to 
have the greatest liberty, really find themselves 
in the greatest slavery ; for they are ** led cap- 
tive by Satan at his will,'' and of '' whom a man 
is overcome, of the same is he brought in bond- 
age." And if the carnal appetite has not gained 
such a complete possession, as quite to extin- 
guish all the remains of reason and conscience, 
those noble powers, since they are not permitted 
to give law, will give disturbance ; and there are 
few who have so full an enjoyment of the for- 
bidden pleasures of sense, but that they some- 


times feel the checks of reason, and the terrors 
t)f conscience, which mar their mirth, as the 
hand-writing on the wall did Belshazzar's^ and 
make their lives uncomfortable to them, and 
justly so. 

Now to be religious, is to have the exorbitant 
power of these lusts and appetites broken ; and 
«ince they will not be satisfied, to have them 
mortified, and brought into a quiet submission 
to the commanding faculties of the soul, accord- 
ing to the direction of the divine law ; and thus 
peace is preserved, by supporting good order and 
government in the soul. They certainly live the 
most easy, healthful, pleasant lives, who are most 
«ober, temperate, and chaste ; who allow not 
themselves to eat of any forbidden tree, though 
** pleasant to the eye ;" who live regularly, and 
are the masters, not the servants of " their own 
bellies ;" who '* keep under their bodies, and 
bring them into subjection " to religion and right 
reason ; and by laying the axe to the root, and 
breaking through vicious habits, dispositions, and 
desires, in the strength of divine grace, have 
made the refraining from vicious acts very easy 
and pleasant. " If through the Spirit we mor- 


tify the deeds of the body," we live; we live 

IX. To be religious is to have all our unruly 
passions likewise governed and subdued. And 
is not that pleasant ? Much of our torment arises 
from our intemperate hearts, discontent at the 
providence of God, fretfiilness at every cross 
occurrence, fearful of every imaginary evil, envy 
at those who are in a better state than ourselves, 
malice against those who have injured us, and 
an angry resentment of every, even the least 
provocation. These are thorns and briars in the 
soul. These spoil all enjoyment both of our- 
selves, and of our friends, and of our God too. 
These make men's lives unpleasant ; and make 
them a terror to themselves, and to all about 
them. But when by the grace of God these 
' roots of bitterness ' are plucked up, which bear 
ao much " gall and wormwood,'' and we have 
learned of our Master to be '' meek and lowly 
in hearty" we find ** rest to our souls," we enter 
into the "pleasant land." There is scarcely 
any of the graces of a Christian, that have more 
of present tranquillity and satisfaction, both in- 
herent in them and annexed to them, than this 
of meekness. " The meek shall eat and be 


satisfied ;" they shall inherit the earth ;" they 
shall '* delight themselves in the abundance of 
peaoe ;" they shall " increase their joy in the 
Lord," which nothing diminishes more than un- 
^ovemed passion ; for that grieves the Spirit of 
grace, the Comforter, and provokes him to with* 

X. To be religious is to dwell in love to 
wards all our brethren, and to do all the good 
we can in this world. And is not that pleasant t 
Love is the " fulfilling of the law ;" it is the 
second gi'eat commandment, to ** love our neigfa^ 
bor as ourselves." All our duty is summed up 
in one word, which, as it is a short word, so it 
is a sweet word — love. Behold how good and 
how pleasant it is to live in holy love 1 It is not 
only pleasing to God, and amiable in the eyes 
of all good men, but it will be very comfortable 
to ourselves ; for they that *' dwell in love dw«U 
in God, and God in them.^' 

Religion teaches us to be kind to our relations, 
and to please them well in all things ; neither to 
give, nor resent provocations ; to bear with their 
, infirmities ; to be courteous and obliging to all 
with whom we converse ; to keep our temper, 
and the possession and enjoyment of our own 


souls, whatever affronts are given us. And can 
any thing contribute more to our living pleas- 

By love we enjoy our friends, and have com- 
munion with them in all their comforts, and so 
add to our own ; *' rejoicing with them that do 
rejoice." By lovo we recommend ourselves to 
their love; and what more delightful than to 
love and be beloved ? Love is the very element 
of a pure and sanctified mind, the sweet air it 
breathes in, the cement of that society which 
contributes so much to the pleasure of human 
life. The sheep of Christ, united in flocks by 
the bond of holy love, lie down together in the 
"green pastures" by the " still waters," where 
there is not only plenty, but pleasure. The apos- 
tle, exhorting his friends to " be of good com- 
fort" and to go on cheerfully in their Christian 
course, exhorts them, in order to that, to '' be 
of one mind, and to live in peace," and then, he 
says, " the God of love and peace will be with 

And what pleasure comparable to that of doing 
good 1 It is some participation of the pleasure of 
the eternal Mind who delights to show mercy, 
and to do good. Nay, besides the divinity of 


this pleasure, there is a humanity in it. The 
nature of man, if it be not debauched and viti- 
ated, cannot but take pleasure in making any 
body safe and easy. It was a pleasure to Job 
^ think that he had " caused the widow's heart 
to sing for joy," had been " eyes to the blind, 
feet to the lame, and a father to the poor," and 
that they had been ** warmed with the fleece of 
his sheep." The pleasure that ^ good man has 
in doing good, confirms that saying of our Sa- 
viour's, that '^ it is more blessed to give than to 

XI. To be religious is to live a life 6f com- 
munion with God. And is not this pleasant ? 
•Good Christians, being taken into friendship, 
have " fellowship with the Father, and with his 
Son Jesus Christ/' (1 John i. 3,) and make it 
their business to keep up that holy converse and 
correspondence. Herein consists the life of re- 
ligion, to converse with God, to receive his com- 
munications of mercy and grace to us, and to 
return pious and devout affections to him ; and 
can any life be more comfortable ? Is there any 
conversation that can possibly be so pleasant as 
this, to a soul that knows itself, and its own pow- 
ers and interests ? 


In reading and meditating upon the word of 
God, we hear God speakii^g with a great deal of 
condescension to us and concern for us, speak- 
ing freely to us as a man does to his friend, and 
about our own business ; speaking comfortably 
to us in compassion to our distressful case ; and 
what can be more pleasant to those who have a 
value for the favor of God, and care about the 
interests of their own souls? *' When their 
judges are overthrown in stony places, they, shall 
hear my words, for they are sweet :" the words 
of God will be very sweet to those who see them- 
selves overthrown by sin ; and so they will be to 
all that love Goi With what an air of pleas- 
ure does the spouse say, *' It is the voice of my 
beloved, and he speaks to me !" — In prayer and 
praise we speak to God, and we have liberty of 
speech, have leave to '' utter all our words be- 
fore the Lord," as Jephthah did his in Mizpeh, 
Judges xi. 11. We speak to one whose ear is 
open, is bowed down to our prayers, nay, to 
whom the " prayer of the upright " is a " de- 
* light." It is not only an ease to a burdened 
spirit to unbosom itself to such a friend as God 
is, but a pleasure to a soul that knows its own 
extraction, to have such a '^ boldness " as all 


believers have, to "enter into the holiest."-— We 
may as truly have communion with God in prov- 
idences, as in ordinances ; and in the dnties of 
common conversation, as in religious exercises ; 
and thus that pleasure may become a continual 
feast to our souls. What can be more pleasant 
than to have a God to go to, whom we may " ac- 
knowledge in all our ways," and whom our 
" eyes are ever towards ?" to see all our comforts 
coming to us from his hand, and all our crosses 
too? to refer ourselves, and all events that con- 
cern us, to his disposal, with an assurance that he 
will order all for the best ? What a pleasure it is 
to behold the beauty of the Lord in all his works, 
and to taste the goodness of the Lord in all his 
gifts ; in all our expectations to see every man's 
judgment proceeding from him ; to make God 
our hope, and God our fear, and God our joy, 
and God our life, and God our all I This is to 
live a life of communion with God. 

XII. To be religious is to keep up a constant 
expectation of " the glory to be revealed." It is 
to set eternal life before us as the mark we aim 
at, and the prize we run for, and to seek the 
things that are above. And is not this pleasant ? 
It is our duty to think much of heaven, to place 


our happiness in its joys, and thitherward to di* 
rect our aims and pursuits ; and what subject^ 
what object can be more pleasing t We have 
need sometimes to frighten ourselves from «ia 
with the terrors of eternal death ; but it is much 
more a part of our religion, to eacourage our- 
selves in our duty with the hopes of that eternal 
life which God hath given us, that '^ life which 
is in his Son." 

What is Christianity, but ** having our con* 
versation in heaven," trading with the New Je* 
rusalem, and keeping up a constant correspond* 
ehce with that better country, that is, the heav- 
enly, as the country we belong to, and are in 
expectation of; to which we remit our best e^ 
foots and best affcction;» ; where our head and 
home is, and where W(i hope and long to be 1 

Then we are as we should be, when our 
minds are in a heavenly frame and temper ; then 
we do as we should do, when we are employed 
in the heavenly work, as we are capable of doing 
it in this lower world ; and is not our religion 
then a heaven upon earth ! If there be a fulness 
of joy and pleasure in that glory and happiness, 
which is grace and holiness perfected, there can- 
not but be an abundance of joy and pleasure in 


that grace and holiness, which is glory and hap- 
piness begun. If there will be such a complete 
satisfaction in vision and fruition^ there cannot 
but be a great deal in faith and hope so well 
founded as that of the saints is. Hence we are 
said, when believingy to *' rejoice with joy un- 
fipeakable/' and to be ^' filled with joy and peace 
in believing." 

It is the character of all God's people, that 
they are born from heaven^ and bound for heaven, 
and have laid up their treasure in heaven ; 
and they who know how great^ bow rich, how 
glorioas, aad how well secured that happiness is 
to all believers, cannot but own, that if that be 
their character, it cannot but be their nnspeaka*- 
ble comfort and delight. 

Now sum up the whole, and then tell me 
whether religion be not a pleasant thing indeed, 
when even the duties of it are so much the de- 
lights of it; and whether we do not serve a good 
master^ who has thus made our work its own 
wages, and has graciously provided two heavens 
for those that never deserved one. 




We have already found by inquiry, (oh that we 
could all say we had found by experience !) that 
the very principles and practices of religion have 
91 great deal of pleasanl^oess in them, and the one 
half has not been told us ; and yet the comfort 
that attends religion and follows after it, cannot 
but exceed that which is inherent in it, and comes 
with it. If the '* work of righteousness be peace,** 
much more is the ^* efiect of righteousness" so. 
If the precepts of religion have such an air of 
sweetness in them, what then have the comforts 
of it ? Behold, " happy is the people," even in 
this world, *' whose God is the Lord." 

We must conclude, that they who walk in the 
ways of holy Wisdom, have, or may have, true 
peace and pleasure; for God has both taken care 


for their comfort, and given them canse to be 
comforted ; so that if they do not live easily and 
pleasantly, it is their own fault. 

I. The God whom they serve, has taken care 
for their comfort, and has done enough to convince 
them, that i^ is his will they should be comforted ; 
that he not only gives them leave to be cheerful, 
but would have them to be so ; for what could 
have been done more to the satisfaction of his 
family than he has done in it ? 

1. There is a purchase made of peace and 
pleasure for them, so that they come to it fairly, 
and by a good titloy He that purchased them a 
peculiar people to himself, took care that they 
should be, a pleasant people, that their comforts 
might be a credit to his cause, and the joy of his 
servants in his work might be a reputation to his 
family. We have not only " peace with God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ," but peace in our 
own consciences too ; not only peace above, but 
peace within ; and nothing less will pacify an 
olTended conscience, than that which satisfied an 
offended God. Yet this is not all ; we have not 
only inward peace, but we *' rejoice in the hope 
of the glory of God," and triumph over, nay, we 
triumph' " in tribulation !" 


Think, what a vast expense, if I may so saj, 
God was at, of blood and treasure, to lay up for 
us and to secure to us, not only a future bliss, but 
present pleasure, and the felicities not only of our 
home, but of our way. Christ had trouble, that 
we might have peace — pain, that w^ might hare 
pleasure — sorrow, that we might have joy. He 
wore the crown of thorns, that he might crown us 
with roses, and a lasting joy might be upon our 
heads. He put on the " spirit of heaviness," 
that we might be arrayed with the " garments of 
praise." The garden was the place of his agony, 
that it might be to us a garden of Eden, and 
there it wa$ that he covenanted with his prose- 
cutors for his discipleSy upon his surrendering 
himself, saying in effect to all agonies, as he did 
to them, " If ye seek me, let these go their way," 
if I be resigned to trouble, let them '' depart in 

This was that which made Wisdom's ways 
pleasantness — " the everlasting righteousness'' 
which Christ, by dying, wrought out and brought 
in. This is the foundation of the treaty of peace, 
and consequently the fountain of all those conso- 
lations which believers are happy in. Then it is, 
that " all the seed of Israel glory," when they 


can each of them say, " In the Lord hate I 
righteousness and strength ;" and then Israel 
shall dwell safely, in a holy security, when they 
have learned to call Christ by this name, ^^ The 
Lord our Righteousness." If Christ had not 
gone to the Father as our High Priest, with " the 
blood of sprinkling'' in his hand, we could never 
have rejoiced, but must have been always trem- . 

Christ is our peace, not only as he made peace 
for us with God, but as he " preached'' to them 
** that were far off and to them that were nigh," 
and has engaged that his people, whenever they 
may have trouble in the world, shall have ** peace 
in him ;" upon the assurance of which, they may 
be of good cheer, whatever happens. . It is ob- 
servabJe, that in the close of that ordinance which 
Christ incitituted in the night wherein he was 
betrayed, to be a memorial of his suffierings, he 
both sung a hymn of joy and preached a sermon 
of comfort, to intimate, that what he designed in 
dying for us, was to give us ** everlasting conso- 
lation, and good hope through grace," and this 
we should aim at in all our commemorations of 
fai9 death. 



Peace and comfort are bought and paid for ; if 
any of those who were designed to have the 
benefit of this purchase, (Jeprive themselves of it, 
let them bear the blame, but let him have the 
praitie who intended them the kindness, and who 
will take care that though his kindness be defer- 
red, it shall not be defeated ; for though his 
disciples may be sorrowful for a time, ''their 
sorrow shall be turned into joy." 

2. There are ' promises made' to believers, of 
peace and pleasure. The benefits Christ bought 
for them are conveyed to them, and settled upon 
them in the covenant of grace ; which is " well- 
ordered in all things," for the comfort and satis- 
faction of those, who have made that covenant 
**' all their salvation and all their desire." There 
it is that ''light is sown for t^e righteous," and 
it will come lip in due time. The promises of 
that covenant are the " wells of salvation," out 
of which they "draw water with joy;" the 
** breasts of consolation," out of which, by faitih, 
they are satisfied. 

Those promises of the Old Testam^it, which 
point at the go^l times, speak mostly of this as 
the blessing reserved for those times, that there 
should be great joy and rejoicing. The design 


of the gospel was to make religion a more pleas- 
ant thing than it had been, by freeing it both 
from the burdensome services which the Jews 
were under,' and from the superstitious fear with 
which the heathens kept themselves in awe ; and 
by enlarging the privileges of God's people, and 
making them easier to come at. 

Every particular believer is interested in the 
promises made fo the church, and may plead 
them, and fetch in the comfort contained in them ; 
as every citizen has the benefit of a charter, even 
the meanest. What a pleasure may one take in 
applying such a promise as this, ^* I will never 
leave thee, nor forsake thee?" or this, ^'AU 
tilings shall work together for good to them that 
love God 1" These, and such as these, '* guide our 
feet into the ways of peace." And as they aJ'e a 
firm foundation on which to build our hopes, so 
they are a foil mountain from which to dr^w pur 
joys. By the exceeding greaut and precious 
promises, we partake of a divine natiire in this 
iosta&^^e of it, as much as in any-^a cowfort^Ue 
^Bjoymeni of oqrselyes, And by all Ahe otber* 
promises, that promise is fulfilled, '* My servants 
' shaU eat, but ye shall be hungry ; my serv«,nts 
AhiU <4riAk« but je sb»lJ be ttofVty ; my norKaots 


shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed ; ray ser- 
vants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry 
for sorrow of heart ; and the encouragement 
given to all the church's faithful friends, is made 
good, "rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad 
with her all ye that love her." 

3. There is provision made for the application 
of that which is purchased and promised to the 
saints. What will it avail that there is wine in 
the vessel, if it be not drawn out ? that there is 
a cordial made up, if it be not 'administered? 
Care is therefore taken, that the people of God 
' be assisted in making use of the Comforts treas- 
ured up for them in the everlasting covenant. 

A religious life, one may well expect, should 
be a very comfortable life ; for infinite wisdom 
has devised all the means that could be devised 
to make it so. What could have been done more 
for God's vineyard, to make it flourishing as well 
as fruitful, than what he has done in it ? There 
is not only an overflowing fulness of oil in the 
good olive, but 'golden pipes' for the conveyancp 
of that oil to the lamps, to keep them burning, 
Zech. iv. 12. When God would himself furnish a 
paradise for a beloved creature, there was nothing 
wanting that might contribute to the comfort of 


it ; in it was planted " every tree that was pleas- 
ant to the sight, and good for food ;" so in the 
gospel there is a paradise planted for all the 
faithful offspring of the second Adam ; a Canaan, 
a land *' flowing with milk and honey, a pleasant 
land, a rest" for all the spiritual seed of Abraham. 
Now as God put Adam into Paradise and brought 
Israel into Canaan, so he has provided for giving 
possession to all believers of all that comfort and 
pleasure which is laid up for them. As in the 
garden of Eden, innocency and pleasure were 
twined together, so in the gospel of Christ, grace 
and peace, ^' righteousness and peace have kissed 
each other ;" and all is done that could be wished, 
in order to our " entering into this rest,'' this 
blessed sabbath. So that if we have not the ben- 
efit of it, we may thank ourselves. God would 
have comforted us, and we would not be com- 
forted ,' our souls refused it. 

Four things are done with this view, that those 
who live a godly life, may live a comfortable and 
pleasant life : And it is a pity that they should 
receive the grace of God herein in vain. 

First ; the blessed Spirit is sent to be the Com- 
forter. He enlightens, convinces, and sanctifies, 
but he has his name from this part of his office ; 



he is " the Comforter." As the " Son of God/' 
was sent to be the " Consolation of Israel," to 
provide mdtter for comfort ; so the Spirit of God 
was sent to be "the Comforter," to apply the 
consolation which the Lord Jesus had provided. 
Christ came to make peace, and the Spirit to speak 
peace, and to " make us hear joy and gladness," 
even such as will cause broken bones themselves 
to rejoice. Christ having wrought out salvation 
for us, the work of the Spirit is to give us the 
comfort of it. Hence the joy of the saints is said 
to be "the joy of the Holy Ghost," because it is 
his office to administer such comforts as tend to 
fill us with joy. 

The Spirit as a Comforter was given not only 
for the relief of the saints in the suffering ages of 
the church, but to continue " with the church 
alway to the end," for the comfort of believers, , 
in reference to their constant sorrows both tem- 
poral and spiritual ; and what a favor is this to 
the church ! no less needful, no less advantageous 
than the sending of the Son of God to save us ; 
and for this therefore we should be no less thank- 
ful. Let this article never be lefl out of our 
songs of praise, but let us always give thanks to 
him, who not only sent his Son to make satisfao* 


tion for lis ; but sent his Spirit to give satisfaction 
to us ; sent his Spirit not only to work in us the 
disposition of children towards him, but also to 
witness to our adoption, and ** seal us to the day 
of redemption." 

The Spirit is given to be our Teacher, and 
to ** lead us int6 all truth," and as such he is a 
Comforter; for by rectifying our mistakes and 
setting things in a true light, he silences our 
doubts and fears, and sets things in a pleasant 
light. — The Spirit is our Remembrancer, to put 
us in mind of that which we know, and as such 
)ie is a Comforter; for, like the disciples, we 
distrust Christ in every exigence, because we 
" forget the miracles of the loaves." — The Spirit 
is our Sanctifier ; by him sin is mortified, and 
grace wrought and strengthened ; and as such 
he is our Comforter ; for nothing tends so much 
to make us easy, as that which tends to make us 
holy. — The Spirit is our Guide ; we are said to 
be " led by the Spirit ;" and as such he is our 
Comforter ; for under his conduct we cannot but 
be led into " ways of pleasantness," to the " green 
pastures" and " still watets." 

Secondly; the scriptures are written, "that 
our joy may be full ;" that we may have that joy 


which alcMie is filling, and has that itf it which 
will fill up the vacancies of other joys, and make 
up their deficiences ; and that we may be full of 
that joy, may have more and more of it, may be 
wholly taken up with it, and may come, at length, 
to the full perfection of it in the kingdom of gk>ry. 
** These things are written to you," not only that 
you may ^* receive the word with Joy" at firsts 
when it is a new thing to you, but that your ''joy 
may be full" and constant. The word of God is 
the chief conveyance by which comfort is com* 
municated from Christ, the fountain of life, ta 
all the saints. 

The scriptures we may always have with us^ 
and whenever we will, we may have recourse to 
them ; so that we need not have to seek for cor- 
dials at any time. The *' word is nigh thee," in 
thy bouse, and in thy hand, and it is thine owa 
fault if it be not in thy mouth and in thy hearts 
Nor is it a spring shut up, or ' a fountain sealed.' 
Those that compare spiritual things with spiritual,, 
will find the scripture its own interpreter ; and ' 
piritual pleasure to flow from it as easily, aa 
plentifully, to all who have i spiritual senses exer^ 
cised, as the honey from the comb. 

T^MHBaints have found pleasure in the word<of 


God, and all those who have given up themselves 
to be led and ruled by it. It was such a comfort 
to David in his distress, that if he had not had 
that for his delight, he would have perished in his 
affliction ; nay, he had the joy of God's word to 
be his continual entertainment, '' Thy statutes 
have been my songs in the house of my pilgrim- 
age,"-^" Thy words were found," says Jeremiah, 
** and I did eat them," feast upon them with as 
much pleasure, as ever any hungry man did 
upon his necessary food, or epicure upon his 
dainties : I perfectly regaled myself with them • 
and " thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing 
of my heart." And we not only come short of 
their experience, but frustrate God's gracious 
intentions, if we do not find pleasure in the word 
of God ; for *' whatsoever things were written 
aforetime, were written for our learning ; that we 
through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, 
might have hope." 

Thirdly ; holy ordinances were instituted for 
the furtherance of our comfort, and to make our 
religion pleasant unto us. The conversation of 
friends with each other, is reckoned one of the 
greatest delights of this world ; now ordinances 
are instituted for the keeping up of our commun- 


ion with God, which is the greatest delight of the 
• BQul that is allied to the other world. God ap- 
pointed to the Jewish church a great many feasts 
in the year, and but one fast, and that but for one 
day, for this ena, that they might " rejoice before 
the Lord their God,'' they and their families. 
Deut. xvi. 11. 

Prayer is an ordinance of God, appointed for 
the fetching in of that peace and pleasure which 
are provided for us. It is intended to be not 
only the ease of our hearts by casting our burden 
upon God, as it was to Hannah, who, when she 
had prayed, *.' went her way, and did eat, and 
her countenance was no more sad ;'" but to be 
the joy of our hearts, by putting the promises in 
suit, and improving our acquaintance with heav- 
en: "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy 
may be full." There is a throne of grace erected 
for us to come to ; a Mediator of grace appointed, 
in whose name to come ; the Spirit of grace given 
to help our infirmities ; and an answer of peace 
promised to every prayer of faith : and all this, 
that we may fetch in, not only sanctifying, but 
comforting grace " in every time of need.** God's 
house, in which Wisdom's children dwell, is 


called *' a house of prayer," and thither God 
brings them, on purpose to " make them joyful." 
Singing of psalms is a gospel ordinance, that 
is designed to contribute to the pleasantness 
of our religion ; not only to express, but to ex- 
cite and to increase our holy joy. In singing 
to the Lord, we make a "joyful noise to the rock 
of our salvation." When the apostle had warned 
all Christians to take heed of drunkenness, " Be 
not drunk with wine, wherein is excess," lest 
they should think, thereby he restrained them 
from any mirth that would do them good, he di- 
rects them, instead of the song of the drunk- 
ard, when the heart is merry, to entertain them- 
selves with the songs of angels : ** Speaking 
to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual 
songs; singing and making melody in your hearts 
to the Lord." There is no substance in this or- 
dinance, but God^ in (condescension to our state, 
has been pleased to make a particular ordinance 
of it, to shew how much it is his will, that we 
should be cheerful. "Is any merry? let him 
wng psalms." Is any vainly merry 1 let him sup- 
press the vanity, and turn the mirth into a right 
channel. He need not banish nor abjure the 
mirth, but let it be holy, heavenly mirth, and in 
that mirth, "let him sing psalms." Nay, "is 


any affiicted," and merry in his afiiiction ? let 
him show it by singing psalms, as Paul and Silas 
did ** in the 8tocks."-~The Lord's day is appoint- 
ed to be a pleasant day, a day of holy rest, nay, 
and a day, too, of holy joy ; a thanksgiving day ; 
" This is the day which the Lord hath made, we 
wHl rejoice and be glad in it." — ^The Lord*s Sup- 
per is a spiritual feast ; and a feast, Solomon says, 
'' was made for laughter," and so was this for 
holy joy. We celebrate the memorials of his 
death, that we may rejoice in the victories he ob- 
tained, and the purchases he made by his death ; 
and may apply to ourselves the privileges and 
comforts which by the covenant of grace are made 
ours. There we cannot but be glad, and * rejoice 
in him, where we remember his love more than 

Fourthly ; the ministry is appointed for the 
comfort of the saints, and their guides in the 
ways of wisdom are instructed, by all means 
possible, to make them ** ways of pleasantness," 
and to encourage them to go on pleasantly in 
those ways. The priests of old were " ordained 
for men," and were therefore taken from among 
men, that they might have compassion upon 
the mourners. And the prophets had thi^ par- 
ticularly in their commission^ " Comfort ye 


comfort ye my people, saith your God^ speak ye 
comfortably to Jerusalem." 

Thus has God taken care for the comfort of 
his people, so that he is not to be blamed if they 
be not comforted. But this is not all. 

II. There are many particular benefits and 
privileges which they are entitled to, who walk 
in the ways of religion, that contribute very much 
to the pleasantness of those ways. By the blood 
of Christ those benefits and privileges are pro- 
cured for them, which speaks them highly valua- 
ble ; an4 by the covenant of grace they are 
secured to them, which speaks them unalienable. 

1. Those who walk in Wisdom's ways are 
discharged from the debts of sin, and that is 
pleasant They are privileged from arrests. " Who 
ahall lay any thing to their charge," while " it ia 
God that justifies" them, and will stand by his 
own act, against hell and earth? and He is always 
near that justifies them ; and so is their Advocate, 
who pleads for them, nearer than their accuser, 
though he stand at their right hand to resist them ; 
and he is able to cast him out, and all his accu- 

Surely they put a force upon themselves who 
are merry and pleasant under the guilt of sin ; 


for if conscience be awake, it cannot but have 
" a fearful looking for of vengeance ;" but if sin 
be done away, the burden is removed, the wound 
is healed, and all is well. " Son, be of good 
cheer," said Christ, though sick of a palsy, yet 
be cheerful ; for " thy sins are forgiven thee ;" 
and therefore, not only they shall not hurt thee, 
but God is reconciled to thee, and will do thee 
good ; thou mayest enjoy the comforts of this life, 
and fear no snare in them ; mayest bear the 
crosses of this life, and feel no sting in them ; 
and mayest look forward to anothei life without 
terror or amazement. 

The pain which true penitents experience in 
reflecting upon their sins, makes the pleasure 
and satisfaction they have in the assurance of the 
pardon of them doubly sweet ; as the sorrow of a 
woman in travail is not an allay, but rather an 
increase to the joy. that a *^ man is born into the 
world :" No pain is more acute than that of 
broken bones, to which the sorrows of a penitent 
sinner are compared ; but when they are weU set 
again, they are not only made easy, but they are 
made to rejoice; and to this the comforts of a 
pardoned sinner are compared. " Make me to 
h^ar joy and gladness, that the bones which thou 


hast broken may rejoice," Ps. li. 8. All our bones^ 
when kept that not one of them was broken, 
must say, ** Lord, who is like unto thee V* but 
there is a more sensible joy for one displaced bone 
reduced, than for the multitude of the bones that 
were never hurt ; for one lost sheep brought home, 
than for ninety and nine that went not astray. 
Such is the pleasure which they have, who know 
their sins are pardoned. 

When God's prophets must speak comfortably 
to Jerusalem, they must tell her that her *' iniquity 
is pardoned." Such a pleasure there is in the 
sense of the forgiveness of sins, that it enables us 
to make a light matter of temporal afflictions, 
particularly that of sickness ; '' The inhabitants 
shall not say, I am sick, for the people that dwell 
therein, shall be forgiven their iniquity ;" — and 
to make a great matter of temporal mercies, when 
they are thus sweetened and secured, particularly 
that of recovery from sickness ; '' Thou hast, in 
love to my soul," cured my body, and ** delivered 
it from the pit of corruption, for thou hast cast all 
my sins behind thy back." If our sins be par* 
doned, and we know it, we may go out and come 
in, in peace ; nothing can come amiss to us ; we 
nuty lie down and rise up with pleuure; for all 


is clear between us and heaven ; thus, " Blessed 
is the man whose iniquity is forgiven." 

2. They have "the Spirit of God witnessing 
with their spirits, that they are the children of 
God/' and that is pleasant. Can the children of 
princes and great men please themselves with the 
thoughts of th6 honors and expectations which 
attend that relationship ? And may not the 
children of God think with pleasure on the adop- 
tion they have received ? And the pleasure must 
be the greater, and make the stronger impres- 
sions of joy, when they remember, that they were 
by nature not only strangers and foreigners, but 
children of wrath, and yet are thus highly favor- 
ed. The comfort of relations is none of the least 
of the delights of this life, but what comforts of 
relations is comparable to this, of being related 
to God as our Father, and to Christ as our elder 
brother ; and to all the saints and angels too, as 
belonging to the same family, which we are hap- 
pily brought into relation to ? The pleasure of 
claiming and owning this relation, is plainly in- 
timated in our being taught to cry, ** Abba, Fa- 
ther ;" why should it be thus doubled, and in 
two languages, but to intimate to us, the unac- 
countable pleasure and satisfaction, with which 


good Christians call God * Father V It is the 
string they harp upon, " Abba, Father." 

3. They have ** access with boldness to the 
throne of grace ;" and that is pleasant. Prayer 
not only fetches in peace and pleasure, but it is 
itself a great privilege, and not only an honor, 
but a comfort. It is one of the greatest comforts 
of our lives, that we have a God to go to at all 
times, so that we need not fear coming unseason- 
ably or coming too often ; and in all places we 
may go to him, though we are as Jonah in the 
fish's belly, or as David in the " depths," or " in 
the ends of the earth." 

It is a pleasure to one who is fbll of care and 
grief, to unbosom himself ; and to one who wants 
or fears wanting, to petition one who is able and 
willing to supply his wants. And we have great 
encouragement to ** make our requests known to. 
God ;" we have " access with confidence," not 
access with difficulty, as we have to great men, 
nor access with uncertainty of acceptance, as the 
Nirievites, " who can tell if God will return to 
us I" but we have access with assurance. '* What^ . 
soever we ask" in faith, according to his will, 
" we know that we have the petitions that we 
desired of him." 


It is a pleasure to talk to one whom we love, 
and who, we know, loves us, and though far above 
us, yet takes notice of what we say, and is ten- 
* derly concerned for us; what a pleasure it is 
then to speak to God ! to have not only a liberty 
of access, but a liberty of speech, freedom to 
utter all our mind, humbly, and in faith ; ** bold- 
ness to enter into the holiest by the blood of 
Jesus ; and boldness to pour out our hearts 
before God, as one, who, though he knows our 
case better than we ourselves, yet will give 
tis the satisfaction of knowing it from us, accord- 
ing to our own showing. Beggars who have good 
benefactors, live as pleasantly as any other people; 
this is the tease of God's people, they are beggars, 
but they are beggars to a bountiful Benefactor, 
that is ''rich in mercy to all that call upoa him :" 
Blessed are they that * wait daily at the posts of 
wisdom's doors.' If the prayer of the upright be 
God's delight, it cannot but be their's. 

4. They have a sanctified use of all their 
creature comforts, and that is pleasant. What 
God's people have, be it little or much, they have 
it from the love of God, and with his blessing, and 
then, behold, all things are clean and sweet to 
them ; they come from the hand of a Father, by 


the hand of a Mediator, not in the channel of 
common providence, but by the golden pipes of 
the promises of the covenant. And hence it is, 
that *' a little that a righteous man hath/' having 
a heart to be content with it, and the divine skill 
of enjoying God in it, is better to him than the 
riches of many wicked are to them ; and that 
" a dinner of herbs where love is" and the *^ fear 
of the Lord," is better, and yields abundantly 
more satisfaction, than a *' stalled ox, and hatred 
and trouble therewith." 

5. They have the testimony of their own con- 
sciences for them in all conditions ; and that is 
pleasant. A good conscience is not only a bra- 
zen wall, but a continual feast ; and all* the 
melody of Solomon's instruments of music of all 
sorts, were not to be compared with that of the 
bird in the bosom, when it sings sweet. If Paul 
has a " conscience void of offence," though he be 
as sorrowful, yet he is always rejoicing ;" nay, 
and even when he is ** pressed above measure," 
and has '' received a sentence of death within 
himself," his rejoicing is this ; even the testimony 
of his conscience concerning his integrity. 

As nothing is more painful and unpleasant 
than to be smitten and reproached by, our own 


heatts, to have our consciences fly in our faces, 
and give us our own ; so there is nothing more 
comfortable, than to be upon good ground re* 
eonciled to ourselves ; ta prove our own work by 
the touchstone of Grod's word, and to find it right, 
for then we have rejoicing in ourselves alone, 
and not in another ; ^ " if our hearts condemn 
us not, then have we confidence towards God ;" 
may lift up our face without spot unto him, and 
comfortably appeal to his omniscience ; '' Thou, 
O Lord, knowest me ; thou hast seen me, and 
tried my heart towards thee." It is easy to im- 
agine the holy, humble pleasure that a good man 
has, in the just reflection upk)n the successful 
resistance of a strong and threatening tempta- 
tion ; the seasonable suppressing and crossing of 
an unruly appetite or passion, and a check given 
to the tongue when it was about to speak unad- 
visedly. What a pleasure it is to look back 
upon any good word spoken, or any good work 
done, in the strength of God's grace, to his glory, 
and any way to the advantage of our biethren, 
either for soul or body ! With what a sweet sat- 
isfaction may a good man lie down in the close 
of the Lord's-day, if God has enabled him, in 
aome measure, to do the work of the day in the 


tiay, aceording as the duty of the day requires 1 
We may then ^eat our bread with joy, and drink 
our wine with a merry heart, when we have some 
^ood ground to hope, that God now accepteth our 
works through Jesus Christ. 

6. They have the earnests and foretastes of 
•eternal life and glory ; and that is pleasant indeed. 
They have it not only secured to them, but dwell- 
ing in them, in the first-fruits of it, such as they 
are capable of in their present imperfect state ; 
*' These things are written unto you that believe 
•on the name of the Son of God, that ye may 
know," not only that you shall have, but " that 
you have external life ;" you are *' sealed with that 
Holy Spirit of promise," which is the ** earnest 
of pur inheritance," not only a ratification of the 
grant, but part of the full payment . 

Canaan, when we come to it, will be a land 
flowing with milk and honey ; '' in Qod's pres- 
ence there is fulness of joy, and pleasures for 
evermore ;" but lest we should think it long ere 
we come to it, the God whom we serve has been 
pleased to send to us, as he did to Israel, some 
clusters of the grapes df that good land, to meet 
us in the wilderness. Now if they were sent us 
in excuse of the full enjoyment, and we were to 


be put ofF with them, that would put a bitterness 
into them ; bat being sent us in earnest of the 
full enjoyment, that puts a sweetness into them, 
and makes them pleasant indeed. 

A day in God's courts, and an hour at his table 
in communion with him, is very pleasant, better 
than a thousand days, than ten thousand hours, 
in any of the enjoyments of sense ; but this very 
much increases the pleasantness of it, that it is 
the pledge of a blessed eternity, which we hope 
to spend " within the veil," in the vision and fru- 
ition of God. Sabbaths are sweet, as they are 
earnests of the everlasting sabbatism, or keeping 
of a sabbath, as the apostle calls it, Heb. iv. 9, 
which remainefh for the people of God. Gos- 
pel feasts are therefore sweet, because earnests of 
the everlasting feast to which we shall sit down 
with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The joys 
of the Holy Ghost are sweet, as they are earnests 
of that joy of our Lord, into which all Christ's 
good and faithful servants shall enter. Praising 
God is sweet, as it is an earnest of that blessed 
state, in which we shall not rest day or night 
from praising God. The communion of saints 
is sweet, as it is an earnest of the pleasure we 


liope to have in the ''general assembly and 
church of the first-born." 

They that travel in Wisdom's ways, though 
sometimes they find themselves walking in the 
low and darksome ''valley of the shadow of 
death," where they can see but a little way be- 
fore them ; yet at other times ar^ led with Moses 
to the top of mount Pisgah, and thence have a 
pleasant prospect of the land of promise and the 
glories of that good land ; not with such a damp 
upon the pleasure of it as Moses had, " Thou 
shalt see it with thine eyes,, but thou shalt not go 
over thither ;" but such an addition to the pleasure 
of it as Abraham had, when God said to him, 
"All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give 
it." Take pleasure of the prospect as a pledge of 
the possession shortly. 




Haying found religion in its own nature 
pleasant, and the comforts and^ privileges so 
with which it is attended, we shall next try to 
make this truth more evident, by appealing to 
such as may be thought competent witnesses in 
such a case. I confess if we appeal to the 
** natural man," who looks no further than the 
things of sense, and judges by no other rule 
than sense, and ** receiveth not the things of the 
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; " 
such a one will be so far from consenting to 
this truth, and concurring with it, that he will 
contradict and oppose it. Our appeal must be 
to those who have some spiritual senses exer- 
cised, " for the brutish man knows not, neither 
doth the fool understand this." We must there- 
fore be allowed to appeal to convinced sinners,, 
and comforted saints. Wicked people, whom 
the Spirit has roused out of a sinful security, 
and godly people, whom the Spirit has put to 


re«t in a holy serenity, are the most competent 
witnesses to give evidence in this case ; and to 
their experience we appeal. 

I. Ask those who have tried the ways of sin 
and wickedness, of vice and profaneness, and 
begin to pause a little, and to consider, whether 
the way they are in be right ; and let us hear 
what is their experience Concerning those ways : 
and' our appeal to them is in the words of the 
apostle, ** What fruit had ye then in those 
things, whereof ye are now ashamed ? " Not 
only what fruit will ,ye have at last, when the 
end of these things is death ; or, " What plea- 
sure hath he in his house after him, when the 
number of his months is cut off in the midst? " 
but what fruit, what pleasure had ye then, when 
you were in the enjoyment of the best of it ? 
^ Those who have been running to an excess 
of riot, who have laid the reins on the neck of 
their lusts, have rejoiced with the " young man 
in his youth, and walked in the way of their 
hearts and the sight of their eyes," have taken 
a boundless liberty in the gratification of sense, 
and have made it their business to extract out 
of this world whatever may pass under the 
name of pleasure: ask them now, when they 


begin to reelect, which they could not find in 
their hearts to do while they were going on in 
their pursuit — ask them what they think of 
those pleasures which pretend to vie with those 
of religion, and they will tell you, 

1. That the pleasure of sin was painful and 
unsatisfying in the enjoyment, and a pleasure 
which then they had no reasoil to boast of It 
was a sordid pleasure, and beneath the dignity 
of a man, and which could not be had but by 
yielding up the throne in the soul to the inferior 
faculties of sense, and allowing them the xlo- 
minion over I'eason and couscience, which ought 
to command and give law. It was the gratifying 
of an appetite which was the disease of the soul, 
and which would not be satisfied, but, like the 
daughters of the horse-leech, still cried, ' Give, 

They who have made themselves slaves to 
their lusts, will own that it was the greatest 
drudgery in the world, and therefore is repre- 
sented in the parable of the prodigal, by a 
young gentleman hiring himself to one that sent 
him into his field to feed swine,'where he was 
made a fellow-commoner with them, and " would 
fam have filled his belly with the husks" that 


they did eat ; such a disgrace, such a dissatis- 
faction is there in the pleasures of sin. And 
consider, too, tlie diversity of masters which 
sinners are at the heck of, and their disagree- 
ment among themselves ; for they that are 
disobedient to that God who is One, are de- 
ceived, "serving divers lusts and pleasures," 
iind therein " led captive " by Satan, their 
sworn enemy, "at his wilL" 

2. They will tell you that the pleasure of sin 
was very bitter and tormenting in the reflection. 
We will allow that there is a pleasure in sin for 
a season, but that season is soon over, and is 
succeeded by another season that is the reverse 
of it ; the sweetness is soon gone, and leaves 
the bitterness behind in the bottom of the cup ; 
the wine is red, and gives "its colour;" its 
flavor is very agreeable, but at the last it " bites 
like a serpent, and stings like an adder." Sin 
is that strange woman, whose flatteries are 
charming, but " ho end bitter as wormwood." 

When conscience is awake, and tells the 
sinner he is verily guilty ; when his sins are set 
in order before him in their true color, and he 
sees himself defiled and deformed by them ; 
when his own wickedness begins to correct 


faim, and his backslidings to reprove him, and 
his own heart makes him " loathe himself for 
his abominations ; " where is the pleasure of his 
sin then ? As the thief is ashamed when he is 
discovered to the world, so are the drunkards, 
the unclean, when discovered to themselves. 
They say, " Where shall I cause my shame to 
go ? " There is no remedy, but I must " lie 
down in it." If the pleasure of any sin would 
last| surely that of ill-got gain would, because 
there is something to show for it; and yet, 
though that wickedness be sweet in the sinner's 
mouth, though he " hide it under his tongue, 
yet in his bowels it is turned into the gall of 
asps." He hath " swallowed down riches," but 
shall be forced to " vomit them up again." 

And is such pleasure as this worthy to come 
in competition with the pleasures of religion, or 
to be named the same day with them ? What 
senseless creatures are^he sensual^ that will not 
be persuaded to quit the pleasures of brutes, 
i;^hen they might have in exchange the delights 
of angels ! 

II. Ask those that have tried the ways of 
wisdom, what is their experience concerning 
those ways. " Call now, if there be any that 


will answer you/ and to which of the saints will 
you turn ? " "^ Turn you to which you will, and 
they will agree to this, that " Wisdom's ways 
are pleasantness, and her paths peace." How- 
ever about some things they may differ in their 
sentiments, in this they are all of a mind, that 
God is a good master, and his service not only 
perfect free<lom, but perfect pleasure. And it 
is a debt which aged and experienced Chris- 
tians owe both to their Master, and to their 
fellow servanls, both to Christ and Christians, to 
bear their testimony to this truth ; and the more 
explicitly and solemnly they do it, the better. 
Let them tell others ** what God has done for 
their souls," and how they have " tasted that he 
is gracious ; " let them own to tho honor- o^ 
God and religion, that there '' has not failed one 
word of God's good promise ; " by which he 
designed to make his servants pleasant ; that 
what is said of the pleasantness of religion is 
really true. Let them " set to their seal that it 
is true." 

The ways of religion and godliness are the 
good old ways. Now if you would have an 
account of the way ycm are to go, you must 
inquire of those that have travelled it, not those 


who have only occasionally stept into if^ but 
those whose business has led them to frequent 
it. Ask the ancient travellers, whether they 
have found rest to their souls in this way, and 
there are few you shall inquire of, but will be 
ready to own these four things ,from expe*^ 
rience — 

I. That they have found the rules and dic- 
tates of religion very agreeable both to right 
reason, and to their true interest, and therefore 
pleasant. They have found all God's precepts 
concerning all things to be right, and reasona- 
ble, and highly equitable ; and when they did 
but show themselves men, they could not but 
consent and subscribe " to the law, that it is 
good." And there is a wonderful propriety in 
this; for the laws of humility and meekness, 
sobriety and temperance, contentment and pa- 
tience, love and charity, are agreeable to our- 
selves when we are in oUr right mind. They 
are the rectitude of our nature, the advancement 
of our powers and faculties, the composure of 
our minds, and the comfort of our lives, and 
carry their own letters of commendation along 
ivith them. If a man understood himself and 
his own interest, he would comport with theso. 


rules, and govern himself by them, though there 
were no authority over him to oblige him to it. 
All that have thoroughly tried them, will say 
they are so far from being chains of imprison- 
ment to a man, and as fetters to his feet, that 
they are as chains of ornament to him, and as 
the girdle to his loins. Ask experienced Chris- 
tians, and they will tell you what abundance of 
comfort and satisfaction they have had in keep- 
ing sober, when they have been in temptation to 
excess, '.in doing justly, when they might have 
gained by dishonesty, as others do, aiid nobody 
' know it; in forgiving an injury, when it was in 
the power of their hand to revenge it ; in giving 
alms to the poor, when perhaps they straitened 
themselves by it; in fiubmitting to an affliction, 
when the circumstances of it were very aggra- 
vating ; and in bridling their passion under 
great provocations. With what comfort does 
Nehemiah reflect upon it, that though his pre- 
decessors in the government had abused their 
power, yet " so did not I, because of the fear of 
God 1 " And with what pleasure does Samuel 
make his appeal, ** Whose ox have 1 taken, or 
whom hkve I defrauded 1 '' and Paul his, ** I 
have coveted no man's silveri or gold, or appa- 


rel." If you would have a register of expe- 
riences to this purpose, read the llDth Psalm^ 
which ^is a collection of David's testimonies ij^ 
the sweetness and goodness of God's law^ the^ 
equity and excellency of it, and the abundant^ 
satisfaction that is to be found in a constant 
conscientious conforoijty to it. 

II. They will say also that they have found the 
exercises of devotion to be very pleasant and com- 
jR)rtable ; and if there be a heaven upon earth, it 
is in communipn with God in his ordinances; ia 
hearing from him, in speaking to him, m receiv- 
ing the tokens of his favor and communications 
of his grace, and returning pious affections to 
him ; pouring opt the heart before him ,* lifHng 
up the soul to him. All good Christians will sub- 
scribe to David's experience ; " It is good for me 
to draw near to God;" the nearer the better; and 
it will be best of all, when I come to be nearest 
of all, within the veil, and shall join with them in 
saying, " Return unto thy rest, O my soul !" to 
God as to thy rest, and repose in him. I have 
found that satisfaction in communion with God, 
which I would not exchange for ail the delights 
of the sons of men, and the peculiar treasures 
of kings and provinces^ What a pleasure did 


those pious Jews in Hezekiah's time find in the> 
solen^nitics of the passover, who» when they had 
kept seven days according to the law, in attend- 
ing >on God's ordinances, '' took counsel togeth- 
er to keep other seven days, and they kept other 
seven days with gladness." And if Christ's hea,r- 
ers had not found an abundant sweetness and sat- 
isfaction in attending on him, they could never 
have continued their attendance those days in a 
desert place, as we find they did, Matt. xv. S% 
No wonder then that his own disciples, wheo 
Ihey were spectators of his transfiguration and 
auditors of his discourse with Moses and Elias in 
the holy mount, said, ''Master, it is good to be 
here ;" here let us make tabernacles ! 

III. They will say that they have found the 
pleasure of religion sufficient to overcome the 
pains and troubles of sense^ and to take out the 
fitingof them, and to take out the terror of them. 
This is a plain evidence of the excellency of spi» 
utual pleasures, that religious convictions will 
soon c<mquer sensual delights, and quite extin- 
guish them ; so that they become as ** scmgs to a 
heavy heart " for a " wounded spirit who ca» 
bear V But it has often, been found that the 
pains of sense have not been able to extinguish: 



spiritual delights, but have been conquered and 
quite over-balanced by them. Joy in spirit has 
been to manj a powerful allay to trouble in the 

The pleasure that holy souls have in God, as 
it needs not to be supported by the delights of 
sense, so it fears not being suppressed by the 
grievances of sense. They can rejoice in the 
Lord, and joy in him as the God of their salva- 
tion, even then, when the " fig-tree doth not 
blossom, and there is no fruit in the vine," for 
even then, when in the world they have tribula- 
tion, Christ hath provided that in him they 
should have satisfaction. 

For this we may appeal to the martyrs, and 
other sufferers for the name of Christ. How 
have their spiritual joys made their bonds for 
Christ easy, and made their prisons their ' de- 
lectable orchards,' as one of the martyrs called 
his. Animated by these comforts, they have not 
only taken patiently, but "taken joyfully, the 
spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves 
that they have in heaven a better, and a more 
enduring substance." Ask Paul, and he will tell 
you, that even then, when he was " troubled on 
every side/' when without wf^re fightings, and, 


within were fears, yet he was filled with com- 
fort, and was exceeding joyful in all his tribu- 
lation ; and that as his sufferings for Christ 
increased, his cobsolatipn in Christ increased 
proportionably. And though he expects no 
ether, but to finish his course with blood, yet 
he doubts not but to finish his course with joy. 
Nay, we may appeal to the sick-beds and death- 
beds of many good Christians for proof of this. 
When wearisome nights have been . appointed 
to them, yet God's "statutes have been their 
songs,'* their songs in the night. ' I have pain,' 
says one, ' but I bless God I have peace.' 
' Weak and dying,' said another, ' but light and 
comfort enough within.' The delights of sense 
forsake us, when we most need them to be a 
comfort to us. When a man is " chastened 
with pai)» upon his bed, and the multitude of 
his bones with strong pain, he ahhorreth bread 
and dainty meat," and cannot relish it ; but 
then the bread of life and spiritual dainties have 
the sweetest relish of all. Many of God's people 
have found it so : " This is my comfort in mine 
affliction, that thy word hath quickened me." 
This has '* made all their bed in their sickness," 
and made it easy. 


IV. They have found, that the closer they 
have kept to i'eligion's ways, and the better 
progress they have made in thpse ways, the) 
more pleasure they have found in them. By 
this it appears, that the pleasure takes its 
excellency from the religion — the more religion 
prevails, the greater the pleasure is. What 
disquiet and discomfort Wisdom's children have, 
is owing, not to Wisdom's ways — ^those ar« 
pleasant— but to their deviations from those 
ways, or their slothfulness and trifling in them. 
These things are indeed unpleasant, aiad sooner 
or later will be found so. If good people are 
sometimes drooping and in sorrow, it is not 
because they are good, but because they are not 
so good as they should be. They do not live up 
to their profession and principles, but are too 
much in love with the body, and hanker too 
much after the world. Though they do not turn 
back to Sodom, they look back towards it, and 
are too mindful of the country from which they^ 
came out ; and this makes them uneasy ; this 
forfeits their comforts, and grieves their Com- 
forter, and disturbs their peace, which would 
have been firm to them, if they had been firm 
to their engagements. Xf^e turn aside out of 

A tlELtdlOltS LIF£. , 101 

the ways of God, we are not to think it strange 
if the consolations of God do not follow us. 
But " if we cleave to the Lord with full purpose 
of heart," then we find the " joy of the Lord 
our strength."' Have we not found those duties 
most pleasant, in which we have taken most 
pains and most care? Have we not had the 
most comfortable sabbath visits made to our 
souls when we have been most " in the. Spirit 
on the Lord's day " ? And the longer we con- 
tinue and the more we mend our pace in these 
ways, the more pleasure we find in them. This 
is the excellency of spiritual pleasures, and 
recommends them greatly, ^that they increase 
with use, so far they are from withering or, 
going to decay. The difficulties which may at 
first be found in the ways of religion wear off 
by degrees, and the work of it grows more easy, 
and the joys of it more sweet. 

Ask those who have backslidden from the 
ways of God, have left their first love, and begin 
^to bethink themselves and to remember from 
whence they are fallen, whether they had not a 
great deal more comfort when they kept close 
to God, than they have had since they turned 
aside from him; and they will say with the 


adaltresSy when she found the way of her apos- 
tacy hedged up with thorns, "I will go and 
return to my first husband, for then it was 
better with me than now." There is nothing 
^ot by departing fi-om God, and nothing lost by 
being faithful to him. 

▲ RELlGIOtJit LIVE. 103 



The practice of religion is often spoken of in 
Bcripture "as a way. It is the way of God's 
commandments; it is a highway, the King's 
.highway, the King of kings' highway; and 
those that are religious are travelling in this 
way. The schoolmen commonly called Chris- 
tians in this world, Viatores — travellers ; when 
they come to heaven, they are Comprehensorea 
— they have then attained, are at home. Here 
they are in their journey, there at their journey's 
end. Now if heaven be the" journey's end, the 
" prize of our high calling," and we be sure, if 
we so run as we ought, that we shall obtain, it 
is enough to engage and encourage us in our 
way, though it be ever so unpleasant ; but we 
are told that we have also a pleasant road. 


Now there are ten things which help to make 
a journey pleasant, and there is something like 
to each of these to be found in the way of Wis- 
dom, by those that walk in that way. 

I. It helps to make a journey pleasant to go 
upon a good errand. He that is brought up a 
prisoner in the hands of the ministers of justice, 
whatever conveniences he may be accommodated 
with, cannot have*a pleasant journey, but a mel- 
ancholy one : and that is the case of a wicked 
man. He is going on this world toward destruc- 
tion : the way he is in, though wide and broad, 
leads directly to it ; and while he persists in it, 
every step he takes is so much nearer hell, and 
therefore he cannot have a pleasarit journey ; 
it is absurd and indecent to pretend to make it 
so. Though the way may seem right to a man, 
yet there can be no true pleasure in it, while the 
end thereof is the ways of death, and the "steps 
take hold on hell." 

JBut he that goes into a far Country to receive 
for himself a kingdom, whatever difficulties may 
attend his journey, yet the errand he goes on is 
enough to make it pleasant ; and on this errand 
they go that travel Wisdom's wa^s. They look 
for a kingdom which cannot be moved, and are 


pressing forward in the hopes of it. Abraham 
went out of his own country, " not knowing 
whither he went ;" but those that set out and 
hold on in the way of religion, know whither it 
V(i\{ bring thera ; they know that it leads to life, 
eternal life ; and therefore, " in the way of 
righteousness is life," because there is such a life 
at the end of it. 
Good people go upon a good errand, for they 
' go on God's errand as well as their own. They 
are serving and glorifying him, ^contributing 
something to his honor, and the advancement of 
the interests of his kingidom among men ; and 
this makes it pleasant. And that vi^hich puts so 
gireat a reputation upon the duties of religion, 
that by them Gad is served and glorified, cannot 
but put so much the more satisfaction into them. 
With what pleasure does Paul appeal to God, as 
the God whom " he served with his spirk ift the 
gospel of his Son !" 

II. It helps to make a journey pleasant to have 
strength and ability for it. He that is weak, 
sickly, and lame, can find no pleasure in the 
pleasan test walks. How should he, when he 
takes every step in pain. A strong man rejoices 
to run a race, but he that is feeble trembles to set 


one foot before another. Now this makes the 
ways of religion pleaisant, that they who walk in 
those ways, are not only cured of their natural 
vtseakness, but are filled with spiritual strength ; 
they travel not in their own might, but in the 
" greatness of his strength," who is " mighty to 
save." Were they to proceed in their own 
strength, they would have little pleasure in the 
journey. Every little difficulty would foil them, 
and they would tire presently ; but they go forth, 
aiid go on in the strength of the Lord God ; and 
upcm every occasion, according to his promise, 
he renews that strength to them, and they 
" mount up vyith wings like Ragles/' they go on 
with cheerfulness and alacrity ; *' they lun, and 
are not weary ; they walk, and do not faint." 
God, with his comforts, enlarges their hearts, 
and then they not only go, but '' run in the way 
of his commandments." 

That which to the old nature is impracticable 
and unpleasant and which therefore is declined, 
or undertaken with reluctancy, to the new nature 
is easy and pleasant : and this new nature is 
given to all the saints, and puts a new life and 
vigor into them, strengthens them with all might 
in the inner man, unto all diligence in doiag- 


work, patience in suffering-work, aind persever- 
ance in both ; and so all is made pleasant. They, 
are " strong in the Lord, and in the power of 
his might," and this not only keeps the spirit 
willing, even when the flesh is weak, but makes' 
even the " lame man to leap as an hart, and the 
tongue of the dumb to sing." 

III. It helps to make a journey pleasant to 
have a good guide, whose knowledge and faith- 
fulness one can confide in. A traveller, though 
he has day-light, yet may miss his way and lose 
himself, if he have not one to show him his way 
and go before him, especially if his way lie, as 
ours does, through a wilderness, where there are 
so many by-paths ; and though he should not be 
guilty of any fatal mistake, yet he is in continual 
doubt and fear, which makes his journey uncom- 
' fortable. But this is both the safety and the sat- 
isfaction of all true Christians, that they have 
not only the gospel of Christ for their light, as 
a discovering and directing light, but the Spirit 
of Christ, for their guide. It is promised, that he 
shall " lead them into all truth," shall " guide 
them with his eye." Hence they are said to 
** walk after the Spirit," and to be " led by the 
Spirit ;" as God's Israel of old were led through 


the wilderness by a pillar of cloud and fire, and 
the Lord was in it 

IV. It helps to make a journey pleasant to be 
under a good guard or convoy, that one may 
travel safely. Our way lies through an enemy's 
country, and they are active, subtle enemies. 
The road is infested with robbers, who lie in 
wait to spoil, and to destroy. We travel by the 
lions' dens and the mountains of the leopards ; 
and our danger is the greater, because it arises, 
not from flesh and blood, but spiritual wicked- 
ness. Satan, by the world and the flesh, way- 
lays us, and seeks to devour us ; so that we could 
not with any pleasure go on our way, if God 
himself had not taken us under his special pro- 
tection. The same Spirit that is a guide to these 
travellers, is their guard also ; for whoever are 
sanctified by the Holy Ghost, are by him " pre«- 
served in Christ Jesus blameless ;" and shall be 
preserved to the heavenly kingdom, so that they 
shall not be robbed of their graces and comforts, 
which are evidences for,, and earnests of eternal 
life. They are " kept by the power of God, 
through faith unto salvation," and therefore may 
go on cheerfully. The promises of God are a 
writ of protection to all Christ's good sufagects 


in their travels, and give them such a holy secu- 
rity, as lays a foundation for a constant serenity. 
Eternal truth itself has assured them, that no 
evil shall hefal them, nothing really and destruc- 
tively evil, no evil but what God will bring good 
to them out of. God himself has engaged to be 
their keeper, and to preserve their going out and 
coming in, from henceforth and for ever, which 
promise looks as far forwards as eternity itself: 
and by such promised as these, and that grace 
which is conveyed through them to all active be^ 
lievers, God carries them as upon eagles' wipgs, 
to bring them to himself. . 

Good angels are appointed for a guard to all 
that walk in Wisdom's ways, to bear them in 
their arms, where they go, and to pitch their tents 
round about them where they rest, and so to keep 
them in all their ways. How easy may they be 
that are thus guarded, and how well pleased un- 
der all events I as Jacob was, who ** went on his 
way, and the angels of God met him." 

V- It helps to make a journey pleasant, to 
have the. way tracked by those that have gone 
before in the same road, and on the same errand. 
Untrodden paths are unpleasant ones ; but in the 

way of religion, we are both directed .aad i^or 


couraged by the good examples of thosQ that have 
chosen the way of truth before us, and have 
walked in it. We are bidden to follow them, 
who are now "through faith and patience," 
those travelling graces of a Christian, " inherit- 
ing the promises."^ 

It is pfeasant to think that we are walking in 
the same way with Abraham, and Isaac, and Ja- 
cob, with whom we shortly hope to sit down in 
the kingdom of God. How many holy, wise, good 
men have governed themselves by the same 
rules that we govern ourselves by, have lived 
with the same views and by the same faith that 
we live by, looking for the same blessed hope ; 
and have by it obtained a good report I We "^go 
forth- by the footsteps of the flock." 

Let us, therefore, to make our way easy and 
pleasant, take the prophets for an example. And 
" being' compassed about with so great a cloud 
of witnesses, let us run with patience, and cheer- 
. fulness, the race that is set before us, looking 
unto Jesus," the most encouraging pattern of all,, 
who has " left us an example, that we should' 
follow his steps ;*' and what more pleasant than 
to follow such a leader, whose word of command 
is, " Follow me " ? 


VI. It helps to make a journey pleasant to 
have good company. This deceives the time, 
and takes off the tediousness of a journey, as 
much as any thing. It is the comfort of those 
who walk in Wisdom's ways, that though there 
are but few walking in those ways, yet there are 
some, and those the wisest aiid best, and more 
excellent than their neighbors; and it will be 
found there are more ready to say, *' We will go 
with you, for we have heard that God is with 

The communion of saints contributes much 
to the pleasantness of Wisdom's ways. We have 
many fellow-travellers that quicken one another, 
by the fellowship they have one with another, as 
companions in the kingdom and patience of Je- 
sut Christ. It was a pleasure to those who were 
going up to Jerusalem to worship, that their 
numbers increased in every town they came to, 
and so they " went from strength to strength ;" 
they grew more and more numerous, "till every 
one of them in Zion appeared before God ;^' and 
'80 it is with God's spiritual Israel, to which we 
have the pleasure of seeing daily additions of 
such as shall be saved. 


VII. It helps to make a journey pleasant, to 
have the way He through green pastures, and by 
the still waters ; and so the ways of Wisdom do. 
David speaks his experience herein, that he was 
led into the " green pastures," the verdure 
whereof was grateful to the eye, and " by the still 
waters," whose soft and gentle murmurs were 
music to the ear : and he was not driven through 
these, but made to lie down in the midst of these 
delights, as Israel when they encamped atElim, 
where there were twelve wells of water and three- 
score and ten palm-trees. Gospel ordinances, in 
which we deal much in our way to heaven, are 
as agreeable to all the children of God, as these 
green pastures and still waters. They call the 
Sabbath a delight, and prayer a delight, and 
the word of God a delight. These are their 
pleasant things. There ** is a river " of comfort 
in gospel ordinances, ** the streams whereof 
make glad the city of God," the holy place of the 
tabernacles of the Most High ; and along the 
banks of this river their road lies. 

• Those that turn aside from the ways of God's 
commandments are upbraided with the folly of 
it, as leaving a pleasant road for an unpleasant 
one. Will a man, a traveller, be such a fool as 


to leave the fields^ which are smooth and even, 
for a rock that is rugged and dangerous, or for 
the snowy mountains of Lebanon ? Shall the run- 
ning waters be forsaken for the strange cold 
waters? Thus are men enemies to themselves, 
and the foolishness of man perverteth his way. 
VIII. It adds to the pleasure of a journey, to 
have it fair over head. Wet and stormy weather 
takes off very much of the pleasure of a jour- 
Bey ; but it is pleasant travelling when the sky 
is clear, and the air calm and serene : and this 
IS the happiness of those who walk in Wisdom's 
ways, that all is clear between them and heaven ; 
there are no clouds of guilt to interpose between 
them and the Sun of Righteousness, and to in- 
tercept his refreshing beams ; no storms of wrath 
gathering that threaten them. Our reconcilia- 
tion to God, and acceptance with him, makes 
every thing pleasant. How can we be melan- 
choly, if heaven smile upon us ? " Being jus- 
tified by faith, we have peace with God,'' and 
peace from God, peace made for us, and peace 
spoken to us, and then *' we rejoice in tribuia- 
tion." Those travellers cannot but rejoice all 
the day, who " walk ia the light of God's coun- 



IX. It adds likewise to the pleasure of a jour« 
ney, to be furnished with all. needful accomnu)- 
dations for travelling. They that walk in the 
way of God, have wherewithal to bear their 
charges, and it is promised them that they shall 
want no good thing. If they have not an abun« 
dance of the wealth of this world, Which perhaps 
does but overload a traveller and prove an incum- 
brance rather than any furtherance, yet, they 
have good bills ; having access by prayer to the 
throne of grace wherever they are, and a prom- 
ise that they shaH receive what they ask ; and 
access by faith to the covenant of grace, which 
they may draw upon, and draw from as an in** 
exhaustible treasury. " Jehovah Jirah ; the 
Lord will provide." 

X. It helps to make a journey pleasant to 
have a good prospect. The travellers in Wis- 
dom's ways may look about them with pleasure, 
BO, as no travellers ever could ; for they can call 
all about them their own, even the *' world, and 
life, and death, and things present, and things to 
come ; all is theirs, if they be Christ's." The 
whole creation is not only at peace with them, 
but at their service. 

A ftfiUOlOVS UF2. 115 

It is pleasant in a journey, to have a prospect 
of th6 journey's end ; to see that the way. we 
are in leads directly to it, and to see that it can- 
not be far off, nay, that we are within a few steps 
of it. We have a prospect of being shortly with 
Christ in paradise. Yet a little while, and we 
shall be at home, we shall be at rest ; and what- 
ever difficulties we may meet with in our way, 
when we come to heaven all will be well, eter- 
nally well. 




" Suffer me a little," says Elihu to Job, 
^* and I will show thee that I have yet to speak 
on God's behalf," something more to say in 
defence of this truth, against that which may 
seem to weaken the force of it. We all ought 
to concern ourselves for the vindication of god- 
liness, and to speak what we can for it, for 
we know that it is everywhere spoken against. 
There is no truth so plain, so evident, but there 
have been those who have objected against it. 
The prince of darkness will raise what mists he 
can to cloud a truth, that stands so directly 
against his interest ; but great is the truth, and 
will prevail. 

Now as to the truth of the pleasantness of 
religion — 

I. It is easy to confront the reproaches of the 
enemies of religion, who give it an ill name. 
There are those who make it their business, 


having perverted their own ways, to pervert the 
right ways of the Lord, aiid cast an odium upon 
them ; as Ely mas the sorcerer did, with a de- 
sign ** to turn away the deputy from the faith." 
They are like the wicked spies, that brought up 
an evil report of the promised land, as a land 
that did eat up the inhabitants thereof; and 
neither could be conquered, nor was worth 

Now in answer to these calumnies we have 
this to say, that the matter is not so. They who 
say thus of religion *' speak evil of the things 
which they know not." The devil, we know, 
was a liar from the beginning, and a false 
accuser of God and religion ; and represented 
God to our first. parents, as having dealt hardly 
and unjustly with them, in prohibiting them the 
*' tree of knowledge ; " as if he envied them 
the happiness and pleasure they would attain to 
by eating of that tree ; and the same method he 
still makes use of to alienate men's minds from 
the life of God and the power of godliness. 
But we know and are sure, that it is a ground- 
less imputation ; for Wisdom's ways are ** ways 
. of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." 


II. It is easy also to set aside the misrepre- 
sentations of religion, which are made by some 
that call themselves its friends, and profess 
kindness for it. As there are enemies of the 
Lord that blaspheme, so there are among the 
people of the Lord those that give them great 
occasion to do so^ as David did. How many 
wounds does religion receive in the house of 
her friends ; false friends they are, or foolish 
ones, unworthy to be called Wisdom's children, 
for they do not justify her as they ought ; but 
through mistake and indulgence of their own 
weakness, betray her cause, instead of pleading 
it- and witnessing to it ; and confirm people's 
prejudices against it, which they should en- 
deavor to remove. 

Some that profess religion are morose and 
sour in their profession, peevish and ill-hu- 
mored, and make the exercises of religion a 
burden and task, and a terror to themselves and 
all about them; while it ought to sweeten the 
spirit, and make it easy, and candid, and com- 
passionate to the infirmities of the weak and 
feeble of the flock. 

Others are melancholy and sorrowful in their 
profession, and go mourning from day to day, 


under prevailing doubts and fears, and disquie- 
tudes about their spiritual state. We know 
some of the best of God's servants have expe- 
Henced trouble of mind to a great degree. 

As to the former, it is their sin ; and let them 
bear their own burden, but let not religion be 
blamed for it : and as to the latter, though 
there are some very good people that are of a 
sorrowful spirit, yet we will abide by it, that 
true piety has true pleasure in it notwithst^nd* 
ing. But God is sometimes pleased,, for wise 
and holy ends, to suspend for a time the eon>- 
municfttion of his comforts to his people, and to 
hide his /ace from them, to try their faith, that 
it may be ** found to praise, and honor, and 
glory at the appearing of Christ," and so much 
the more for their being a while ** in heaviness 
through manifold temptations." Thus he cor<- 
rects them for what has been done amiss by 
them, and takes this course to mortify what is 
amiss in them. Even winter seasons contribute 
to the fruitfulness of the earth. Thus he brings 
them to a closer and more humble dependence 
upon Christ for all their comfort, and teaches 
them to live entirely upon him. And though 
" for a small moment he thu» forsakes them/' it 



18 bat to magnify his power so much the more 
in sapporting them, and to make his returns the 
eweeter ; for he will gather them with '* ever- 
lasting loving-kindness." Light is sown for 
them, and it will ,eome up again. 

As this is their affliction, God's hand must be 
acknowledged in it, his righteous hand ; yet 
there is sin in it, and that is from themselves. 
Good people have not the comforts they might 
have in their religion ; and whose fault is it ? 
They may thank themselves ; they run them- 
selves into the dark, and then shut their eyes 
against the light. ** My wounds stink and are 
corrupt," says David. * The wounds of sin 
which I gave myself are unhealed, not bound 
up, or mollified with ointment.' And why 1 Is 
it for want of balm in Gilead, or a physician 
there t No ; he owns it is because of his fool- 
ishness ; he did not take the right method with 
them. God speaks joy and gladness to his 
people, but they turn a deaf ear to it, like 
Israel in Egypt, that hearkened not to Moses, 
for " anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage." 
But let not the blame be laid upon religion, 
which has provided comfort for their souls ; but 
let them bear the blame whose souls refose to 


be comforted, or who do not take the way 
appointed for comfort. David Owns that the 
reason why he wanted comfort, and was in 
pain, and agitated, was because he " kept 
silence." He was not so free with God as he 
might and should have been ; but when he 
said, " I will confess my transgression unto the 
Lord,'' he was forgiven, and all was well. Psal. 
xxxii. 3, 5. 

Those do both God and Christ, and them- 
selves and others, a de^l of wrong, who look 
upon him with whom they have to do in 
religion, as one that seeks an occasion against 
them, and counts them for his enemies, and is 
extreme to mark what they think, or say, or do 
amiss ; whereas he is quite otherwise, is slow to 
anger, swift to merey, and willing to make the 
best of those whose hearts are upright with 
him, though they are compassed about with 
infirmity. lie will not always chide ; he does 
not delight ki the "death of them that die," 
but would rather that they should "turn and 
live." Nor does he delight in the tears of them 
that weep*— does not ** afflict willingly, nor grieve 
the children of men," much less his own chil- 
dren; but would rather they shoold be upon 


good grounds comforted. Religion then elears 
itself from ail blame which some may take 
occasion to cast upon it, from the uncpmfortable 
lives which some lead that are religious. 

III. But it will require more pains to recon- 
cile this truth of the pleasantness of religious 
ways, with that which the word of God itself 
tells us of, the difficulties with which the ways 
of religion are attended. We value not the 
misapprehensions of some, and the misrepresen- 
tations of others, concerning religious ways; 
but we are sure the word of God is of a piece 
with itself, and does not contradict itself. Our 
Master has taught us to call the way to heaven 
a narrow way, that is, an afflicted way, a dis* 
tressed way ; and we have in scripture many 
things that declare it to be such. But this does 
not contradict the doctrine that the ways of 
Wisdom are pleasant ; for the pleasantness that 
is in Wisdom's ways is intended to be a bal- 
ance, and is very much an over-balance to any-* 
thing in them which is any way distasteftil or 
incommodious. As for the imaginary diffi- 
culties which the sluggard dreams of, ''a lion 
in the way," *' a lion in the street,"* we do not 
regard them; but there are some real difficulties 


in it, as well as real comforts. ** God hath set 
the one over against the other," that we might 
study to comport with both, and might sing, 
and sing unto God of both. We will not, we 
dare not, make the matter better than it is, but 
will allow there is that in religion which at first 
view may seem unpleasant ; and yet doubt not 
but to show that it is reconcileable to, and 
consistent with, all that pleasure which we 
maintain to be in religion, and so to take off 
all exceptions against this doctrine. 

There are four things which seem not well to 
agree with this doctrine, and yet it is certain 
they do. 

1. It is true, that to be religious is to live a 
life of repentance, and yet religious ways are 
pleasant notwithstanding. It is true, that we 
•must mourn for sin daily, and reflect with regret 
•impon our manifold infirmities ; sin must be bitter 
to us, and we must even loathe and abhor our- 
selves for the corruptions which dwell in us, and 
the many actual transgressions which are com- 
mitted by us. We must renew our repentance 
daily, and every night must make some sorrowful 
reflections upon the transgressions of the day. 
But then it is not walking in the way of Wisdom 


that creates us this sorrow, but our trifling in 
that way, and our turning aside out of it. If we 
would keep close to these ways, and pass forward 
in them as we ought, there would be no occasion 
for repentance. If we were as we should be^ 
we should be always praising God, and rejoicing 
in him ; but we make other work for ourseke^' 
by our own folly, and then complain that religion 
is unpleasant ; and whose fault is that ? If we 
would be always Io?ing and delighting in Qod^ 
and would live a life of communion with him, we 
should hare no occasion to repent of that ; but 
if we leave the fountain of living waters, and 
turn aside to broken cisterns, or the brooks in 
suminer, and see cause to repent of it, we may 
thank ourselves. What there is of bitterness in 
repentance, is owing, not to our religion, but to 
our defects and defaults in religion ; and it 
proves that there is bitterness, not in the ways 
of God, but in the ways of sin, which makes & 
penitential sorrow necessary for the preventing^ 
of a sorrow a thousand times worse ; for sooner 
or later sin will have sorrow. If repentance 
"he bitter, we must not say, this is occasioned 
through being godly, but through b^ing sinful. 
" This is thy wickedness, because it is bitter.'^ 


If by sin we have made sorrow necessary, it is 
certainly better to mourn now, than *' to mourn 
at the last." To continue impenitent, is not to 
put away sorrow from thy heart, but to put it off 
to a worse place. 

Even in repentance, if it be right, there is a 
true pleasure, a pleasure accompanying it. Our 
Saviour has said of them who thus mourn, ^ot 
only that *'they shall be comforted," but that 
they " are blessed." When a man is conscious 
to himself that he has done an ill thing, and 
what is unbecoming him, and may be hurtful to 
him, it is incident to him to repent of it. Now 
religion has found a way to put a sweetness into 
that bitterness. Repentance, when it is not 
from the influence of religion, is nothing but 
bitterness and horror, as Judas's was ; but re- 
pentance, as it is made an act of religion, as it 
is one of the laws of Christ, is pleasant, because 
it is the raising of the spirit, and the discharge 
ing of that which is noxious and offensive. 
Our religion has not only taken care that peni- 
tents be not overwhelmed with an excess of 
sorrow, and swallowed up by it, that their sor- 
row do not work death, as the sorrow of the 
world does ; bat it has provided that even ^his 


bitter cup should be sweetened ; and therefore 
we find that, under the law, the sacrifices for 
sin were commonly attended with expressions of 
joy : and while the priests were sprinkling the 
blood of the sacrifices to make atonement, the 
Levites attended with psalteries and harps, for 
so was the commandment of the Lord by his 
prophets. Even the day to afflict the soul is the 
day of atonement ; and when we receive the 
atonement, we " joy in God through our Lord . 
Jesus Christ/' In giving our consent to the 
atonement, we take the comfort of the atone- 
meiK. In sorrowing for the death of some dear 
friend or relation, thus far we have found a 
pleasure in it, that it has given vent to our 
grief, which our spirits were full of; so in 
flCNrrow for sin, the shedding of just tears is 
some satisfaction to us. The same word in 
Hebrew signifies both to comfort and to repent, 
beeaose there is comfort in true repentance. 

Much more, after repentance, there is a plear 
sure flowing from it. It is a way of pleasant- 
Bess, for it is the way to pleasantness. To them 
that mourn in Zion, that sorrow after a godly 
0ort, God hath appointed ''beauty for ashes^ 
ud the oil of JQjjf for nour&iiig." Afid the 


more the soul is humbled under the sense of 
sin, the more sensible will the comfort of pardon 
be ; it is wounded in order to be healed. The 
Jubilee trumpet sounded in the close of the day 
of soul-affliction, which proclaimed the accepta- 
ble year of the Lord, the year of release. 

2. It is true that to be religious is to take 
care, and to take pains, and to labor earnestly ; 
and yet Wisdom's ways are ** ways of pleasant- 
ness." It is true, we must strive to enter into 
this way; must be in an agony — so the word 
is. There is a violence which the kingdom of 
heaven suffers, and the " violent take it by 
force ! " The bread of life is to be eaten^ ia 
the sweat of our face. We must be always 
upon our guard, and keep our hearts with all v 
diligence. Business for God and our souls is 
what we are not allowed to be slothful in, but 
we die to be '' fervent in spirit, serving the 
LcN-d." We are " soldiers of Jesus Christ, and 
we must endure hardness, must war the good 
warfare," till it be accomplished. 

And yet even in this contention, there is \ 
comfort. It is work indeed, aii^d work that 
requires care ;- and yet it will appear to be 
pjea^f^t work, if we consider iu>w ve are 


Strengthened for it, and animated with strength 
in our souls to go on in it, and go through with 
it. It would be unpleasant, and would go on 
very heavily, if we were left to ourselves, to 
travel in our own strength ; but if we be ac- 
tuated and animated in it by a better spirit and « 
mightier power than our own, it is pleasant. If 
God work " in us both to will and to do of his 
own good pleasure," we shall have no reason to 
complain of the difficulty of our work ; for God 
** ordains peace for us," true peace and pleasure, 
by " working all our works in us." It is ob- 
servable that when God, though he eased not 
Paul of the thorn in the flesh, yet said that 
good word to him, '' My grace is sufficient for 
thee," immediately it follows, "Therefore I 
take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in 
distresses for Christ's sake ; for when I am 
weak, then I am strong." Sufficient grace will 
make our work pleasant, even the hardest part 
of it. 

It will appear to be pleasant work, if we con- 
sider how we are encouraged in it. It is true, 
we must take pains; but the work is good 
work, and is to be done, and is done by all the 
saints, from a principle of holy love, and that 

A UUGIQI78 LI^E. 129 

makes it pleasant ; aq Jacob's service for Ra- 
chel was pleasant to him, because he lo?ed her. 
It is an unspeakable comfort «to industrious 
Christians, that they are working together with 
God, and be with them; that their Master's 
laye is upon them, and a witness to their sin- 
oerity ; that *' he sees in secret," and will 
** reward openly." God now accepts their 
works, smiles upon them, and his Spirit speaks 
to them good words, and ** comfortable words," 
witnessing to their adoption. And this is very 
encouraging to God's servants, as it was to the 
servants of Boaz to have their master come to 
them, when they were hard at work, reaping 
down his own fields, and with a pleasant coun- 
tenance say to them, " The Lord be with you.'* 
Nay, the Spirit says more to God's laborers— 
*« The Lord is with you." 

The prospect of the recompense of reward 
is, in a special manner, encouraging to us in 
our work, and makes it pleasant, and the little 
difficulties we meet with in it to be as nothing. 
It was by giving an eye to this, that Moses was 
encouraged, not only to bear the reproach of 
•Christ, but to " esteem it greater riches than 
the treasures of Egypt"^ In all labor there is 


profit, and if so, there is pleasure also in the 
prospect of that profit, and according to the 
degree of it. We must work, but it is to work 
out our salvation, a great salvation, which, 
when it comes, will abundantly make us 
amends for all our toil. We must strive, but 
it is to enter into life, eternal Jife. We must 
run, but it is for an incorruptible crown, the 
prize of our high calling. And we do not run 
at an uncertainty, nor fight as those that beat 
the air ; for to him that '* sows righteousness 
there is a sure reward," and the assurance 
of that harvest will make even the seed time 

3. It is true that to be religious is to deny 
'ourselves in many things that are, pleasing to 
sense; and yet Wisdom's ways are pleasantness 
notwithstanding. It] is indeed necessary that 
beloved lusts should be mortified and subdued, 
corrupt appetites crossed and displeased, which, 
to the natural man, is like ** plucking out a 
right eye, and cutting off a right hand." There 
are forbidden pleasures th^t must be abandoned, 
and kept at a distance from : the flesh must not 
be gratified, nor '^ provision made to fulfil the 
lusts of it," but, on the contrary, we must 


*' keep under the body, and bring it into sab- 
jection ; " we must " crucify the flesh," must 
kill it, and put it to a painful death. The first 
lesson we are to learn in the schobl of Christ, 
is to deny ourselves, and this must be our 
constant practice; we must use ourselves to 
deny ourselves, and thus " take up our cross 

Now will not this spoil all ^he pleasure of a 
religious life ? No, it will not ; for the pleasures 
of sense, which we are to deny ourselves, are 
comparatively despicable, and really dangerous. 

These pleasures we are to deny ourselves are 
comparatively despicable. How much soever 
they are valued and esteemed by those who live 
by sense, and know no better, they are looked 
upon with a generous contempt by those who 
live by faith, and are acquainted with divine 
and spiritual pleasures. And it is no pain to 
deny ourselves in these pleasures, when we 
know ourselves entitled to better, more rational, 
and noble, and agreeable, the delights of the 
blessed spirits above. When a man has learned 
to put a due estimate upon spiritual pleasures, 
those that are sensual have lost all their sweet- 
ness, and are become the most insipid things in 


the world ; have no pleasure in them, in com* 
parison with that far greater pleasure whioh 
exoellethv Is it any diminution to the pleasure 
of a grown man^ to deny himself the toys andT 
sports which he was fond of when a child t 
Nt>; when he becomes a man he puts away 
these childish things. He is now past them,, he 
is above them, for he is acquainted with those 
entertainments that are manly and more gen- 
erous. Thus mean and little do the pleasures 
of sense appear to those that have learned to 
delight themselves in the Lord» 

They are really dangerous ; they are apt to 
take away the heart If the heart be set upon 
them, they blind the mind, debauch the under- 
standing and eonscience, and in many quench 
the sparks of conviction, and of that holy fire 
which comes from heaven and tends to heaven. 
They are in danger of drawing away the h^art 
from God, and the more Ihey are valued and 
coveted, ^he more dangerous they are, the more 
likely to pierce us through with many sorrows, 
and to drown us in destruction and perdition. 
To deny ourselves in them, is but to avoid a 
rock^ upon which multitudes have fatally split. 

^ ▲ RELIGIOUS UFE. 133. 

What diminution is it to the pleasure of a 
safe and happy way on sure ground, which will 
certainly bring us to our journey's end, to deny 
ourselves the false and pretended satisfaction of 
walking in a fair but dangerous way, that leads 
to destruction 1 Is it not much pleasanter trav- 
elling on a rough pavement than on. a smooth 
quicksand 1 Where there is a known peril 
there can be no true pleasure, and therefore 
the want of it is no loss or uneasiness. 

What pleasure can a wise or considerate man 
take in those entertainments in which he has 
continual reason to suspect a snare and a design 
upon him, any more than he who was at a feast 
could relish the dainties of it, when he was 
aware of a naked sword hanging directly over 
him by a single thread ? The foolish woman 
indeed calls the ''stolen waters sweety and 
bread eaten in secret pleasant ; " but those find 
no difficulty or uneasiness in denying them wha 
know " that the dead are there, and her guests 
are already in the depths of hell." 

4. It is true, that " through much tribulation 

we must enter into the kingdom of God ; '' that 

we must Qot only deny ourselves the pleasures 

of sense, but must sometimes expose ourselves 



to its pains ; that we mast take up our cross 
when it lies in our way, and bear it after Christ. 
We are uAd, that *' ail that will lire godly in 
Christ Jesus must suffer persecution/' at least 
they must expect it, and get ready for it ; 
bonds and afflictions abide them ; losses in 
their estates, hindrances in their preferment, 
reproaches and contempts, banishments, deaths, 
must be counted upon ; and will not this spoil 
the pleasure of religion 7 No, it will not ; for 
it is but '* light affliction ** at the worst, that we 
are called to suffer, and " but for a moment," 
compared with the ** far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory " that is reserved for us, 
with which the sufferings of this present time 
are not worthy to be compared.'' All these 
troubles do but touch the body, the outward 
man, and the interests of it ; they do not at all 
affect the soul. They break the shell, or pluck 
off the husk, but do not bruise the kernel. 

Can the brave and courageous soldier take 
pleasure in the toils and perils of the camp, and 
in jeoparding his life in the high places of the 
field, in the eager pursuit of honor, and in the 
service of his prince and coutitry ? And shall 
not those who have the interests of Christ's 


kingdom near their hearts, and are carried on 
by a holy ambition of the honor that comes 
from God, take a delight in suffering for Christ, 
when they know that those sufferings tend to 
his honor and their own hereafter 1 They that 
are " persecuted for righteousness' sake, that 
are reviled, and have all manner of evil said 
against them falsely," because they belong to 
Christ, are bidden not only to bear it patiently, 
but to rejoice in it, and to be *^ exceeding glad, 
for great is their reward in heaven/' Every 
reproach we endure for Christ will be a pearl in 
our crown shortly. 

As those afflictions abound for Christ, so our 
'' consolations in Christ do much more abound." 
The more the waters increased, the higher was 
the ark lifted up. The more we suffer in God's 
cause, the more we partake of his comforts; 
for he will not be wanting to those whom he 
calls out to any extraordinary hardships for' his 
name's sake. Thus the extraordinary supports 
and joys which they experience, who patiently 
suffer for righteousness' sake, add much more 
to the pleasantness of the ways of Wisdom, 
than the sufferings themselves do or can dero- 
gate from it ; for the sufferings are human, the 


bonsolations are divine. They suffer in the 
flesh, but they rejoice in the spirit ; they suffer 
for a time, but they rejoice evermore; and 
*' this their joy no man taketh from them." 




CoNCERNiNO this doctrine of the pleasantness 
of religious lyays, I hope we may now say, as 
Eliphaz does of his principle, " Lo ! this, we 
have searched it ; so it is ; " it is incontestibly 
true, and therefore we may conclude as he 
does, " Hear it, and know thou it for- thy 
good ; " know thou it for thyself — so the margin 
reads it; apply it to thyself, believe it con- 
cerning thyself, not only that it is good, but 
that '' it is good for thee to draw near to God." 
Then only we hear things, and know them for 
our good, when we hear them and know them 
for ourselves. 

The inferences, by way of counsel and ex- 
hortation, we shall draw from this doctrine. 

I. ]jet us all be persuaded and prevailed 
with, to enter into and to walk in these paths 
of Wisdom, that are so very pleasant. 


Is a life of religion such a sweet and com- 
fortable life ? Why then should not we be 
religious? If such as these be the ways of 
Wisdom, why should not we be travellers in 
those ways ? Let this recommend to as a life 
of sincere and serious godliness, and engage us 
to conform to all its rules, and give up ourselves 
to be ruled by them. It is not enough to have 
a good opinion of religion, and to giye it a good 
word ; that will but be a witness against us, if 
we do not set ourselves in good earnest to the 
practice of it, and make conscience of living 
up to it. 

I would here, with a particular and pressing 
importunity,' address myself to you that are 
young, to persuade you, now in the days of 
your youth, now in the present day, to make 
religion your choice and your business ; and I 
assure you, if you do so, you will find it your 
delight. That which I would persuade you to, 
is to walk in the ways of Wisdom, to be sober, 
minded, to be thoughtful about your souls and 
your everlasting state, and to get your minds 
well principled, and well affected, and well 
inclined. " Wisdom is the principal thing, 
therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting 


get understanding." That of which I would 
persuade you, is the pleasantness of this way ; 
you cannot do better for yourselves than by a 
religious course of life. 

I wish you would see and seriously consider 
the two rivals that are making court to you 
for your souls, for your best affections, Christ 
and Satan ; and act w'isely in disposing of 
yourselves, and make such a choice as. you will 
.afterwards reflect upon with comfort. You are 
now at the turning time* of life; turn right 
now, and you are made for ever. Wisdom 
says, " Whoso is simple, let him turn in " to 
me ; and she will cure him of his simplicity. 
Folly says, ** Whoso is simple, let him turn in " 
to me ; and she will take advantage of his 
simplicity. Now let him come, wh^se right 
your hearts are, and give them him,' and you 
shall have them again more your ownl 

That you may determine well between these 
two competitors for the throne in your souls, 
see, first, the folly of carnal, sinful pleasures, 
and abandon them: you will never be in love 
with the pleasures of religion till you' are per- 
isuaded to' fall ' out with forbidden pleasures. 
The enjoyment of the delights of sense suits 


best with the age of youth ; the appetite 
towards them is then most violent ; mirth, 
sport, plays, dainties, -are the idols of young 
people ; they are therefore called " youthful 
lUSts." The days will come, the evil days, 
when they themselves will say they have " no 
pleasure in them," like Barzillta, who, when he 
was old, could no more relish what he ate and 
what he drank. Oh that reason, and wisdom, 
and grace, might make you as dead to them 
now, as time and days will make you after a 
while I 

Will you believe one who tried the utmost of 
what the pleasures of sense could do towards 
making a man happy? He said of laughter, 
" It is mad," and of mirth, " What doth it 1 " 
and that '* sorrow is better than laughter." 
Moses knew what the pleasures of a court 
were, and yet chose rather to suffer affliction 
with the people of God, than to continue in the 
snare of them ; and you must make the same 
choice; for you will never cordially embrace 
the pleasures of religion, till you have re- 
nounced the pleasures of sin. Covenant against 
them, therefore, and watch against them. 


Look upon sinful pleasures as mean, and 
mucli below you ; look upon them as vile, and 
much against you ; and do not only despise 
them, but dread th(*m, and ^' hate even the 
garments spotted with the flesh." 

Secondly ; be convinced of the pleasure of 
Wisdom's ways, and come and try them. You 
are, it may be, prejudiced against religion as a 
melancholy thing; but, as Philip ^aid to Na- 
thaniel, " Come and see." Believe it possible 
that there may be a pleasure in religion which 
you have not yet thought of When religion is 
looked upon at a distance we see not that 
pleasure in it which we shall certainly find 
when we come to be better acquainted with it. 
Come and take Christ's yoke upon you, and 
you will find it easy. Try the pleasure there is 
in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, and 
in converse With spiritual and eternal things; 
try the pleasure of seriousness and self-denial, 
and you will find it far exceeds that of vanity 
and self-indulgence. Try the pleasure of med- 
itation on the word of God, of prayer, and 
praise, and sabbath-sanctification, and you will 
think that you have made a happy change of the 


pleasure of Tain and carnal mirth for these true 


Make this trial by .these four rales. — ^First, 
that man's chief end is to glorify God and 
enjoy him. Our pleasures will be according to 
that which we pitch upon and pursue as our 
chief end. If we can mistake so far as to 
think it is our chief end to enjoy the world and 
the flesh, and our chief business to serve them, 
the delights of the senses will relish best with us : 
but if the world was made for mah, certainly 
man was made for more than the world ; and if 
God made man, certainly he made him for 
himself: God then is our chief good, it is our 
business to serve and please him, and our 
happiness to be accepted of him. 

Secondly ; that the soul is the man, and that 
is best for us which is best for our souls. Learn 
to think meanly of the flesh, by which we are 
allied to the earth and the inferior creatures. It 
is formed out of the dust, it is dust, and it- is 
hastening to the dust ; and then the things that 
gratify it will not be esteemed of any great 
moment. ** Meats for the belly, and the belly 
for meats, but God shall destroy both it and 
them ; and therefore let us not make idols of 

k RELIOI01T8 LIFE. 143 

them. But tiie soul is the noble part of us, by 
ndiich we are allied to heaven and the world of 
spirits. Those comforts therefore which delight 
the soul are the comforts we should prize most, 
and give the preference to, for the soul's sake. 
Rational pleasures are the best for a man. 

Thirdly ; that the greatest joy is that which 
a stranger doth not intermeddle with. The best 
pleasure is that which lies not under' the eye 
and observation of the world, but which a man 
has and hides in his own bosom, and by which 
he enjoys himself, and keeps not only a peace- 
able but a comfortable possession of his own 
soul, though he does not, by laughter, or other 
expressions of joy, tell them the satisfaction he 
has. Christ had '' meat to eat which the world 
knew not of,'' and so have Christians, to whom 
he is the bread of life. 

Fourthly ; that all is well that ends everlast- 
ingly well. That pleasure ought to have the 
preference which is of the longest continuance. 
The pleasures of sense are withering and 
fading, and leave a sting behind them to those 
that place their happiness in them; but the 
pleasures of religion will abide with us; ''in 
these is continuance ; " they will not turn with 



the wind, nor change with the weather, but are 
meat which endures to everlasting life. Reckon 
that the best pleasure which- will remain with 
you, and stand you in stead when you come to 
die; which will help to take off the terror of 
death, and allay its pains. The remembrance 
of sinful pleasures will give us killing terrors, 
but the remembrance of religious pleasures will 
give us living comforts in dying moments. 

II. Let us, who profess religion, study to 
make it more and more pleasant to ourselves. 
We see how much is done to make it so ; let us 
not receive the grace of God herein in vain. 
Let them that walk in wisdom's ways taste the 
sweetness of them, and relish it. Christ's ser- 
vice is perfect freedom ; let us not make a 
drudgery of it, nor a toil of such a pleasure. 
We should not only be reconciled to our duty, 
as we ought to be to our greatest afflictions, and 
to make the best of it, but we should rejoice 
in our duty, and sing at our work. If God 
intended that his service should be a pleasure, 
to his servants, let them concur with him. 
herein, and not walk contrary to him. ^ 


Now, in order to the making of our religion 
increasingly pleasant to us, I shall give seven 

1. Let us always keep up good thoughts of 
God, and carefully watch against hard thoughts 
of him. As it is the original error of many 
that ar-e loose and careless in religion, that they 
''think God altogether such an one as them- 
selves," as much a friend to sin as themselves, 
and as indifferent whether his work be done or 
not, — so it is the error of many who are severe 
in their religion, that they think God, like 
themselves, a hard Master. They have such 
thoughts of him as Job had in an hour of 
temptation, when he looked upon God as 
seeking occasions against him, and taking him 
for his enemy ; as if he were extreme to mark 
iniquities, and implacable to those who had 
offended, and not accepting any service that 
bad in it the least defect or imperfection. But 
the matter is not so ; and we do both God and 
ourselves a great deal of wrong, if we imagine 
it to be so. What could have been done more 
than God has done, to convince us that he is 
gracious, and merciful, "slow to anger," and 
r«adjr to forgive sin when it is repented off 


Let us deal with him accordingly. Let us look 
upon God as love, and the God of love, and 
then it will be pleasant to us to hear from him, 
to speak to him, to converse with him, and to 
do him any service. 

It is true, God is great, and glorious, and 
jealouSji and to be worshipped with reverence 
and holy fear ; but is he not our Father, a 
tender, gracious Father ? Was not God, in 
Christ, "reconciling the woild to himself," and 
to all his attributes and relaiions tO( us, by 
showing himself willing to be reconciled to us, 
notwithstanding our provocations? See him, 
therefore, upon a throne of grace, and come 
boldly to him, and that will make your service 

2. Let us dwell much by faith upon the 
promises of God. What pleasant lives should 
we. lead, if we were but more intimately ac- 
quainted with those declarations which God 
has made of his good will to man, and the 
assurances he has given of his favor and all the 
blessed fruits of it, to those who serve him 
faithfully? The promises are many, and ex- 
ceeding great and precious, suited to our case, 
and accommodated to- every exigence. There 


are not only promises to grace, but promises of 
grace, grace sufficient ; and these promises are 
all *' yea and amen in Christ." And what do 
these promises stand in our Bibles for, but to be 
made use of? Come, then, and let us apply 
them to ourselves, and insert our own names in 
them by faith. What (iod said to Abraham, 
"I am thy shield," I am ' El-shaddi, a God 
all-sufficient ' — what he said to Joshua, " I will 
never fail thee nor forsake thee," he says to 
me. What he says to all that love himj that 
" all things shall work for good to them ; " and 
to all that "fear him," that ^* no good thing" 
shall be wanting to them, he says to me ; and 
why should not I take the comfort of it? 

3. Let us order the affairs of our religion 
with discretion. Many make religion unplea- 
sant to themselves and discouraging to others, 
by their imprudent management of it ; making 
that service to be a burden by the circum- 
stances of it, which in itself would be a plea- 
sure ; doing things out of time, or tasking 
themselves above their strength, and under- 
taking more than they can go through with, 
especially at first, which is like " putting new 
wine into old bottles," or like " over-driving the 


flocks." If we make the yoke of Christ heavier 
than he has made it, we may thank ourselves 
that our drawing in it becomes unpleasant. 
But let us take our religion as Christ has 
settled it, and we shall find it easy. When 
the ways of our religion are ways of wisdom, 
then they are ways of pleasantness; for the 
more wisdom the more pleasantness. * Wisdom 
dwells with prudence.' Wisdom will direct us 
to be even and regular in our religion, to take 
care that the duties of our general and particu- 
lar calling, the business of our religion and 
our necessary business in the world, do not 
interfere or intrench upon one another. It will 
direct us to time duty aright ; for everything is 
beautiful and pleasant in its season, and work 
is then easy when we are in the frame for it. 
4. Let us live in love, and keep up Christian 
charity, and the spiritual communion of saints. 
/If we would be of good comfort, we must be 
of one mind ; and therefore the apostle presses 
brotherly love upon us with an argument taken 
from the consolations in Christ, Phil. ii. I. that 
is, the comfort that is in Christianity. As ever 
you hope to have the comfort of your religion, 
submit to that great law of it, " Walk^in love ; ** 


for, " Bhhold, how good and how pleasant it is 
for brethren to dwefll together in unity." The 
more pleasing we are to our brethren, the more 
pleasant we shall be to ourselves. 

Nothing makes our lives more uncomfortable 
than strife and contention ; '' Wo is me that I 
dwell among ithose that hate peace." It is bad 
being among those that are disposed to quarrel, 
and worse having in ourselves a disposition to 
quarrel. The resentments of contempt put upon 
us are uneasy enough, and contrivances to 
revenge it are much more so. And nothing 
makes our religion more uncomfortable than 
strifes and contentions about it. We forfeit 
and lose the pleasure of it, if we entangle 
ourselves in perverse disputings about it. But 
by holy love we enjoy our friends, which will 
add to the pleasure of enjoying God in this 
world. Love itself sweetens the soul, and 
revives it, and, as it is the load-stone of love, 
it fetches in the further pleasure and satisfac- 
tion of being beloved, and so it is a heaven 
upon earth ; for what is the happiness and 
pleasure of heaven, but that there love reigns 
in perfection ? Then we have most peace in 


our bosoms, when ive are most peaceably dis- 
posed towards our brethren. 

5. Let us be much in the exercise of holy 
joy, and employ ourselves much in praise. Joy 
is the heart of praise, as praise is the language 
of joy. Let us engage ourselves to these, and 
quicken ourselves in these. God has made 
these our duty, that by these all the other parts 
of our duty may be pleasant to us ; and for that 
end we should abound much in them, and 
attend upcm God with joy and praise. Let us 
not crowd our spiritual joys into a corner of 
our hearts, nor our thankful praises into a 
corner of our prayers, but give both scope and 
vent to both. ^ 

Let us be frequent and large in our thanks- 
givings. It will be pleasant to us to recount 
the favors of God, and thus to make some 
returns for them ; though poor and mean, yet 
such as God will graciously accept. We should 
have more pleasure in our religion, if we had 
but learned in " everything to give thanks," for 
this takes out more than half the bitterness of 
our afflictions, that we can see cause even to be 
thankful for them ; and it infuses more than a 
double sweetness into our enjoy ment^, that they 

A ilELtGlOtfl) LIFE. 151 

furnish us with matter for this excellent, heav-* 
enly work of praise. " Sing praises unto his 
name, for it is pleasant ; " comfortable, as well 
as comely. 

Let us live a life of delight in God, and love 
to think of him, as we do of one whom we love 
and value. Let the flowing in of every stream 
of comfort lead us to the fountain ; and in 
everything that is grateful to us, let us taste 
that the Lord is gracious. Let the drying up of 
every stream of comfort drive us to the foun- 
tain ; and let us rejoice the more in God for 
our beiqg deprived of that which we used to 
rejoice in. 

6. Let us act in a constant dependance upon 
Jesus Christ. Religion would be much more 
pleasant, if we did biit cleave more closely to 
Christ ' in it, and do all in his name. The 
more precious Christ is to us, the more pleasant 
will every part of our^ work be ; and therefore 
believing in Christ is often expressed by our 
rejoicing in him. We may rejoice in God, 
through Christ, as the Mediator between us and 
God ; may rejoice in our communion with God, 
when it is kept up through Christ ; may rejoice 
in hope of* eternal life^ when we see this life in 


the Son. " He that hath the Son of God, hath 
life/' that is, he has comfort. 

There is that in Christ, and in his under- 
taking and performances for us, which is suffi- 
cient to satisfy all our doubts, to silence all our 
fears, and to balance all our sorrows. He was 
appointed to be "the Consolation of Israel," 
and he will be so to us, when we have learned 
not to look for that in ourselves which is to 
be had in him only, and to make use of his 
mediation in everything wherein we have to do 
with God. When we rejoice in the righteous- 
ness of Christ, and in his grace and strength ; 
when we rejoice in his satisfaction and inter- 
ceission, in his dominion and universal agency 
and influence, and in the progress of his Gospel, 
and the conversion of souls to him, and please 
ourselves with prospects of his second coming, 
we have then a joy, not only which no man 
takes from us, but which will increase more 
and-more ; and of the increase of Christ's gov- 
ernment, and therefore of that peace, there 
shall be no end. Our songs of joy are then 
most pleasant, when the burden of them is, 
*None but Christ; none but Christ.' 


7. Let US' converse much with the glory that 
is to be revealed. They that by faith send 
their hearts and best affections before them 
to heaven, while they are here on this earth, 
may in return fetch thence some of those joys 
and pleasures that are at God's right hand. 
That which goes up in vapors of holy desire, 
though insensible, in groanings which cannot 
be uttered, will come down again in dews of 
heavenly consolations, which will make the soul 
as a watered garden. 

Let us. look much to the end of our way, how 
glorious it will be, and that will help to make 
our way pleasant. This abundantly satisfies the 
saints, and is the fatness of God's house on 
earth. This makes them now to " drink of the 
river of God's pleasures," that " with him is 
the fountain of life," whence all these streams 
come, and ** in his light they hope to see light," 
everlasting light. By frequent meditations on 
that rest which remains for the people of God, 
we now enter into that rest, and partake of the 
comfort of it. 

. Our hopes of that happiness through grace 
would be very much strengthened, and our 
evidences for it cleared up insensibly, if we did 


but converse more with it, and the discoveries 
made^ of it in the Scripture. We may have 
foretastes of heavenly delights while we are 
here on earth, clusters from Canaan while we 
are yet in this wilderness, and there is no 
pleasure comparable to that which these afford. 
That is the sweetest joy within us which is 
borrowed from the joy set before us. And we 
deprive ourselves very much of the comfort of 
our religion, in not having our eye more to that 
joy. We rejoice most triumphantly, and with 
the greatest degrees of holy glorifying, when 
we " rejoice in hope of the glory of God." In 
this " our heart is glad, and our glory rejoices." 
' III. Let us make it appear that we have 
indeed found wisdom's ways to be pleasantness, 
and her paths peace. If we have experienced 
this truth, let us evidence our experience ; 
and, not only in word^ but in deed, bear our 
testimony to the truth of it. Let us live as 
those who believe the sweetness of religion, not 
because we are told it, but because we have 
tasted it. 

If so be then we " have tasted that the Lord 
is gracious ; " if we have, indeed, found it a 
pleasant thing to be religious— *< 


1. Let our hearts be much enlarged in all 
religious exercises, and all instances of Gospel 
obedience. The more pleasant the service of . 
God is, the more we should abound in it. 
When God enlarges our hearts with his con- 
solations, he expects that we should run the 
way of his commandments, that we should 
exert ourselves in our duty with more vigor, 
and press forward 'the more earnestly towards 

What is really our delight we are not soon 
weary of. If we delight in approaching to God, 
we shall seek him daily, and make it our daily 

. work to honor him. If meditation and prayer 
be sweet, let them be our daily iexercise ; and 
let this bind our souls with a bond to God, and 

' the ** sacrifice as with cords to the horns of the 
ahar." With this we should answer all temp- 
tations to apostacy — * Shall I quit so good a 
Master, so good a service ? Entreat me not to- 
leave Christ, or to turn from following after 
him; for it is good to be here.' ** Here let us 
make tabernacles." Whither else shall we go, 
but to Him that has the words of eternal life T 

2. Let our whole conversation be cheerful, 
and melancholy be banished. Are the ways of 


religion pleasant t Let us be pleasant in them, 
both to ourselves and to those about us. As for 
those who are yet in a state of sin and wrath, 
they have reason to be melancholy ; let the 
sinners in Zion be afraid, be afflicted; joy is 
forbidden fruit to them ; what have they to do 
with peace ? " Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, 
as other people, for thou hast gone a whoring 
from thy God." But those who, through grace, 
are called out of darkness into marvellous 
light, have cause to be pheerful, and should 
have hearts to be so.. ** Arise, shine, for thy 
light is come." Is the Sun of Righteousness 
risen upon us ? Let us arise and look forth as 
the morning with the morning. That comfort 
which Christ directs to our souls, let us reflect 
back upon others. And as our light is come, 
so is our liberty. Art thou " loosed from the 
bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion? 
Awake, awake, put on thy strength, put on thy 
beautiful garments, and shake thyself from the 

Though vain and carnal mirth is both a great 
sin and a great snare, yet there is a holy 
cheerfulness and pleasantness of conversation, 
which will not only consist very well with 


serious godliness, but greatly promote it in 
ourselves, and greatly adorn it, and recommend 
it to others. ** A merry heart," Solomon says, 
'** doeth good like a medicine," and makes fat 
the bones; while a broken spirit does hurt 
iike a poison, and dries the bones. Christians 
should endeavor to keep up a cheerful temper, 
and not indulge themselves in that which is 
saddening and disquieting to the spirit; and 
they should show it in all holy conversation, 
that those they converse with may see that they 
did not renounce pleasure when they embraced 

Are we in prosperity ? Let us therefore be 
cheerful, in gratitude to the God of our mercies, 
who expects that we should ''serve him with 
joyfulness and gladness of heart, in the abun- 
dance of ail things," and justly takes it ill if 
we do not. Are we in affliction ? Yet let us 
be cheerful,. that we may make it appear that 
our happiness is not laid up in the creature, nor 
our treasures on earth. If it is the privilege of 
Christians to rejoice in tribulations, let them 
not throw away their privilege, but glory in it^ 
and make use of it. Let the joy of the Lord, 

which has infused itself into our hearts, diiOTuse 


itseJf into all our converse. " Go thy way, eat 
thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine ; " 
nay, if thou shouldst be reduced to drink mere 
water^ drink it " with a merry heart," if thou 
hast good ground to hope that, in Christ Jesus, 
God now accepts thy works ; and this joy of 
the Lord will be thy strength. 

3. Let us look with contempt upon the 
pleasures of sense, and with abhorrence upon 
the pleasures of sin. The more we have tasted 
of the delights of heaven, the more our mouths 
should be put out of taste with the delights of 
this earth. Let not those who have been feasted 
with the milk and honey of Canaan hanker 
after the garlic and onions of Egypt. 

Let us keep at a distance from all forbidden 
pleasures. There is a hook under those baits ; 
a snake under that green grass ; a rock under 
those smooth waters, on which multitudes have 
split. Either spiritual pleasures will deaden 
the force of the pleasures of sin, or the pleasures 
of sin will spoil the relish of spiritual pleasures. 

Let us keep up a holy indifference even to 
the lawful delights of sense, and take heed not 
to love them more than God. The eye that has 
looked at the sun is dazzled to everything else. 


tiave we beheld the beauty of the Lord ? Let 
us see and own how little beauty there is in 
other things. If we be tempted to do anything 
unbecoming us by the allurements of pleasure, 
we may well say, ' Offer these things to those 
that know no better ; but we will never leave 
fountains of living water for cisterns of puddle 

4. Let not our hearts envy sinners. Envy 
arises from an opinion that the state of others 
is better than our own, which we grudge and 
are displeased at, and wish ourselves in their 
condition. Good people are often cautioned 
against this sin ; " Be not thou envious against 
evil men, nor desire to be with them ; " for if 
there be all this pleasure in religion, and we 
have experienced it, surely we need not ex- 
change our condition with any sinner, even in 
his best estate. 

Envy not sinners their outward prosperity, 
their wealth and abundance. Envy not sinners 
the liberty they take to sin ; that they can allow 
themselves in the full enjoyment of those plea- 
sures which we cannot think of without horror. 
Have not we the enjoyment of pleasures which 
are infinitely better, and which they are stran- 


gets to ? We cannot have both ; and of the 
. two, are not ours, without dispute, preferable to 
theirs; and why then should we envy themi 
Their pleasures are enslaving, ours enlarging ; 
theirs debasing to the soul, ours ennobling; 
theirs surfeiting, ours satisfying ; theirs offen- 
sive to God, ours pleasing to him ; theirs will 
end in pain and bitterness, ours will be per- 
fected in endless joys; what reason then have 
we to envy them ? 

5. Let not our spirits sink or be dejected 
under the afflictions of this present time. We 
disparage our comforts in God, if we lay too 
much to heart our crosses in the world; and 
therefore hereby let us evince^ that being satis- 
fied of God's loving-kindness, we are satisfied 
with it. Let us look upon that as sufficient to 
balance all the unkindnesses of men. They 
that value themselves upon God's smiles, ought 
not to vex tjiemselves at the world's frowns. 
The light of God's countenance can shine 
through' the thickest clouds of the troubles of 
this present time ; and therefore we should 
walk in the light of the Lord, even when, as to 
our outward condition, we sit in darkness. 

A RELIGIOtrs LWE. 161 

6. Let the pleasure we have found in religion 
dispose us to be liberal and charitable to the 
poor and distressed. The pleasing sense we 
have of God's bounty to us, by which he has 
done so much to make us easy, should engage 
us bountifully to distribute to the necessities of 
saints, according to our ability, not only to 
keep them from perishing, but to make them 
easy, and that they may rejoice as well as we. 
Cheerfulness that enlarges the heart, should 
open the hand too. Paul observes it concerning 
the churches of Macedonia, who were ready to 
give for the relief of the poor saints at Jerusa- 
lem, that it was the " abundance of their joy," 
their spiritual joy, their joy in God, that 
** abounded unto the riches of their liberality.*' 
When the people of Israel are commanded to 
** rejoice in every good thing " which God had 
given them, they are commanded also to give 
freely to " the Levite, the stranger, the father- 
less, and the widow, that they may eat, and be 
filled." And when, upon^a particular occasion, 
they are directed to "eat the fat, and .drink the 
sweet," Neh. viii. 10, at the same time they are 
directed to " send portions unto them for whom 
nothing is prepared ; " and then the joy of the 


Lord will be their strength. By our being 
charitable, we should show that we are cheer- 
ful ; that we cheerfully taste God's goodness in 
what we have, and trust his goodness for what 
we may hereafter want. • 

7. Let us do what we can to bring others to 
partake of the same pleasures in religion which 
we have tasted, especially those who are under 
our charge. It adds very much to th'e pleasure 
of an enjoyment, to communicate of it to others, 
especially wheh the nature of it is such, that 
we have never the less, but the more rather, for 
others sharing in it. What good tidings we 
hear, that are of common concern, we desire 
that others may hear and be glad too. He that 
has but found a lost sheep, calls his friends and 
neighbors to rejoice with him j but he that has 
found Christ, and found comfort in him, can 
say, not only, * Come, rejoice with me,' but, 
* Come and partake with me ; ' for yet there is 
room enough for all, though ever so numerous ; 
enough for each, though ever so necessitous 
and craving. 

8. Let us be willing to die, and leave this 
world. We have reason to 'be ashamed of 
ourselves, that we, who have not only laid Up 


our treasures above, but fetch our pleasures 
thence, are as much in love with our present ^ 
state, and as loth to think of quitting it, as if 
our riches, and pleasures, and all, were wrapt 
up in the things of sense and time. The 
delights of sense entangle us and hold us here. 
These are the things that make i|s loth to die, 
as one once said, viewing his fine house and 
gardens. And are these things sufficient to 
court our stay here, when God • says, " Arise, 
and depart, for this is not your rest ? " 

Let us not be afraid to remove from a world 
of sense to a world of spirits, since we have 
found the pleasures of sense not worthy to be 
compared with spiritual pleasures. When in 
old age, which fs one of the vallies of the 
shadow of death, we can no longer relish the 
delights of the body, but they become sapless 
and tasteless, as they were to Barzillai, yet we 
need not call those " evil day^," and " years in 
which we have po pleasure," if we have walked 
and persevered in wisdom's ways ; for if so, we 
may then in old age look back with pleasure 
upon a life well spent on earth, as Hezekiab 
did, and look forward with more pleasure upon 
a life to be better spent in heaven. And when 


we have received a sentence of death within 
ourselves, and see the day appi^oaching, the 
pleasure we have in loving God and believing 
in Christ, and* in the expressions of holy joy 
and thankfulness, should make even a sick bed 
and a death bed easy. * The saints shall be 
joyful in glory, and shall sing aloud upon their 
beds,' those beds to which they are confined, 
and from which they are removing to their 
graves, their beds in the darkness. Our reli- 
gion, if we be faithful to it, will furnish us with 
living comforts in dying moments, sufficient to 
balance the pains of death, and take off the 
terror of it, and to enable us to triumph over it ; 
" O death, where is thy sting 1 " Let us then 
evidence our experience of the pleasures of 
religion, by living above the inordinate love of 
life and fear of death. 

9. Let us long for the perfection of these 
spiritual pleasures in the kingdom of glory. 
When we come thither, and not till then, they 
will be perfected. While we are here, as we 
know and love but in part, so we rejoice but in 
part. Even our spiritual joys here have their 
damps and alloys ; we mix tears and tremblings 
with them ; but In heaven there is a '' fulness of 


joy without mixture," and " pleasures for ever- 
more^" without period or diminution. The 
servants of Christ will there enter into the joy 
of their Lok'd, and it shall be " everlasting joy»" 
And what are the pleasures in the way of 
wisdom, compared with those at the end of the 
way 7 * If a complacency in the divine beauty 
and love be so pleasant while we are in the 
body, and are absent from the Lord, what will 
it be when we have put off the body, and go to 
be present with the Lord ? If a day in God's 
courts, and a few minutes spent there in his 
praises, be so pleasant, what will an eternity 
within the veil be, among them that dwell in 
his house above, and are still praising LIm ? If 
the earnest of our inheritance be so comfort- 
able, what will the inheritance itself be ? Now 
wherever there is grace, it will be aiming at 
and pressing towards its own perfection. It is 
a " well of w^ter springing up to eternal life." 
This therefore we should be longing for. Our 
love to God in this world is love in motion, in 
heaven it will be love at rest : O when shall 
that sabbatism come, which remains for the 
people of God? Here we have the pleasure of 
looking towards Go4 : '' O when shall we come 


and appear before him?" Our Lord Jesus^ 
when at his last passover, which he earnestly 
desired to eat with his disciples, had tasted of 
the "fruit of the vine/' speaks as one that 
longed to drink it new in the kingdom of hb 
Father. It is very pleasant to serve Christ^ 
here, but to " depart and be with Christ is far 
better." " Now are we the sons of God," and 
it is very pleasant to think of it : but " it doth 
not yet appear what we shall be." Something 
there is in reserve, which we are kept In 
expectation of. We are not yet at home, but 
we should long to be there, and keep up holy 
desires of that glory to be revealed, that we 
may be quickened, as long as we are here, to 
press *' toward the mark for the prize of the 
high calling." 



My meditation of him shall be sweet ; I will be glad in the Lord^ 

When languor and disease invade 

This trembling house of clay 
'Tis sweet to look beyond my pains, 

And long to fly away. 

Sweet to look inward, and attend 

The whispers of his love ; 
Sweet to look upward to the plaee 

Where Jesus pleads above. 

Sweet to reflect, how grace divine 
V My sins on Jesus laid > 
Sweet to remember that his blood 
My debt of suflfring paid. 

Sweet on his faithfulness to rest, 

Whose love can never end ; 
Sweet on his covenant of grace 

For all things to depend. 

Sweet, in the confidence of faith^ 

To tr,ust his firm decrees ; 
Sweet to lie passive in his hand. 

And know no will but his. 

If such the sweetness of the streams. 

What must the fountain be, 
Where saints and angels draw their blii» * 

Immediately from thee !